Jerika Bolen is a 14-year-old Wisconsin teen with an incurable genetic disease. She suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that has essentially left her immobile after damaging her muscles.
Left bound in her wheelchair, the incredibly brave teen has decided to put a stop to her suffering by ending her life.
And she wants go out dancing.
To celebrate her life, Jerika’s final wish was to have a prom, and her local community obliged, giving her a dream send off.
Watch "J's Last Dance" in the video below. Post continues…
Of course Jerika was the evening’s brightest star, dressed in a turquoise mermaid gown with her hair dyed a similar shade. With her personality shining through, the teen “punked” up her look with jewellery and metallic green lipstick.
Held at Appleton’s Grand Meridian, the hall was decorated in her favourite colours lime and black along with fully stocked candy buffet.
Police and fire-fighters escorted the young lady to her big night, with Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas revealing it was a huge honour.
“We’re just blessed to be able to help out,” he said.
“It’s an honour for us, and what an amazing young lady. She makes you appreciate what you have. She makes you think about using your time wisely. She’s making an impact.”
Hundreds turned up to the event, but it was Jerika’s first dance that was the most special. It belonged to her mother.
The pair twirled to Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” with the proud mum whispering to her little girl, “I hope this is the best night of your life.”
Watch Jerika’s final dance with her mum. Her story continues below…
Speaking to The Post Crescent the teen recalled how she explained to her mum, Jen Bolen, that she is at peace with her decision.
“When I decided, I felt extremely happy and sad at the same time,” she explained to the local newspaper.
“There were a lot of tears, but then I realized I’m going to be in a better place, and I’m not going to be in this terrible pain. I’ve been working on it and thinking about it for way longer than anyone else has.”
In her 14 years, Jerika has endured over 38 surgeries. Yet she still has remained brave, with her grandma Sue saying, “She’s a very unselfish little girl and she’s tougher than anyone I’ve ever known.”
The young teen, who currently relies on a ventilator to help her breathe for 12 hours a day, has already made her final hospice arrangements.
Jerika, with her mother’s support has decided that she’ll stop using the life-supporting machine and will be put on morphine instead. She’ll spend her final days with her mum and their two dogs.
“I try to be as happy as possible,” the teenager told local American media outlets.
“I know I can’t always be happy every day. I still wonder why God picked me to have this disease and I know I can never know the reason. Maybe because I’m strong, I guess.”
Despite her incredible chronic pain, she got the chance to focus on something happier – her prom.
Jerika was ecstatic that she got to experience what is a rite of passage for so many.
“I’m super happy and I don’t have to think about anything bad at the moment,” she told The Post-Crescent.
To cap what already was a perfect evening, Jerika was crowned prom queen.
Head to The Post Crescent for all the stunning snaps from Jerika’s big night.
Readers who are seeking assistance can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.
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