Nine-year-old Ben Pierce is slowly chipping away at his wish list of places he wants to see before he loses his vision.
On Wednesday, Pierce, his parents and his five siblings visited what might seem like an unlikely destination for most people to visit — a water tower. But for Pierce and his family, it was significant, meaningful, and as he put it, “awesome.”
Pierce, who has a degenerative eye condition that will eventually cause him to go blind, began his wish list after a therapist advised him and his parents to fill his life with experiences so that he’ll have visual memories once his vision is gone.
“The doctor told us the more we expose him to different things and locations, the easier it will be for him to see and imagine the things we describe to him later,” said Heidi Thaden-Pierce, Ben’s mother.
A water tower was on his list, along with Alaska, a candy factory, the Grand Canyon, a waterfall, the Dallas World Aquarium, a river and a comic book store.
Jennifer Bland, a marketing and development coordinator for the Mustang Special Utility District, read about Ben in the Denton Record-Chronicle earlier this year, looked over his wish list at thadenpierce.org and decided to help Ben scratch one destination.
“I saw that he wanted to tour a water tower and I said, ‘We’re in the water business. We can do that,’” she said.
Mustang is a water supplier for many communities in Denton County’s eastern half, including Pilot Point, Aubrey and Krugerville.
“I don’t know why a 9-year-old is interested in a water tower, but from what I know, he’s smarter than most people his age,” Bland said. “I hoping that after all of this he’ll have a happy memory that he can recall when he’s older.”
When asked why he chose to tour a water tower, Ben shrugged and simply answered, “I don’t know.”
But Ben was rarely without a smile or a look of excitement during the tour. Even Ben’s five siblings — Christopher, 12, Moira, 10, Emy, 7, Joseph, 5, and Olivia, 3 — were excited to tour and enter the base of the water tower.
Joseph even tossed a few questions to Mustang officials to answer.
“How does the water get into it?” he asked. “Are there fish in the water? And how does the water get clean? How does the water get to the houses?”
Pierce’s father, Kit Pierce, said though the request to tour a water tower may seem odd or small, to his son, it was just as cool as seeing a Vincent Van Gogh painting or visiting NASA.
“Was it everything you expected it to be?” his mother asked, as she bent down to his eye level.
“It was amazing,” he said with eyes widening, jumping into his mother’s arms.
“I love when we can fulfill your wishes,” she said, whispering into his ear.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @Jdharden.