APPLETON — A 14-year-old Appleton girl is hosting a dance to celebrate her life after making the decision to die.
Jerika Bolen suffers from spinal muscular atrophy — or SMA. The disease causes constant pain and prevents her from using most of her muscles.
Because of that pain, she has decided this will be her last summer.
“When pain is too much, it’s too much,” Bolen said.
There is a sense of acceptance with Jerika Bolen, who has come to understand that she is no longer able to move on.
“I need to do what’s best for me. It was a really hard decision to make,” Bolen said.
The 14-year-old girl has been in a wheelchair for as long as she can remember. She has been unable to move most of her body — with the exception of her hands, and parts of her face.
Her mother, Jen Bolen says the decision to die was something that’s been discussed for several years, since most people don’t survive the incurable disease as long as she has.
“I knew it was coming, but I also realized that she fought much longer than she would have if it weren’t for her trying to protect me,” Jen Bolen said.
Jerika Bolen plans to celebrate her life this Friday night, July 22nd. She’ll put on a prom dress for an event at Appleton’s Grand Meridian.
She wanted a prom because she loves music.
The event is open to the public.
“I don’t have many friends. I’m not like, because I couldn’t get out really and do many things because I was in so much pain, and this prom is, well — we call it my last dance,” Bolen said.
Sometime in late August, Jerika Bolen will stop using a ventilator that she uses right now to breathe as she begins hospice care.