“My last dance:” 14-year-old from Appleton girl to host prom after making the decision to die

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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.


  • Mark

    and to think I’ve been in a mood today over something that was said to me in the wrong tone. My thoughts and prayers to this girl and her family during this extremely sad time for them.

  • Monya

    This breaks my heart…And we as a nation can’t seem to put aside hate and brutality and LIVE peacefully together while THIS beautiful soul would just like to live a normal… Pain free life in this crazy, hate filled, divided nation… Puts a lot into perspective… or at least it should. What if we all were on a KNOWN time clock? How would you live? Let’s try love and let’s make it contagious! God bless you Jerika Bolin!

  • imcrazy

    I live in a world of pain myself but stories like this make me feel ashamed of feeling sorry for myself. There are so many people that have it worse than me. My focus on others instead of my meger problems helps me forget my pain.

  • Ronjala Abney

    I just seen Jarikica’s story and I really would like to meet with her and do her hair and make up and get the opportunity to speak with her and let her know that this will not be her last dance and maybe be of some assistance to this courageous , beautiful, thoughtful 14yr old.

  • Katie Grace

    God bless you Jerika! You’re a beautiful soul. I hope tonight is everything you wish it to be.

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