Jerika Bolen, a 14-year-old Wisconsin girl who drew global attention over a decision to end her life instead of battling endlessly with a disease without a cure has died, USA Today is reporting
The Appleton teenager who suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, a condition that destroys all nerve cells required for muscular activity has never walked, struggled with breathing and was only able to move her hands and head. Mother Jen Bolen revealed her daughter died Thursday at a hospice in Sheboygan Falls after she voluntarily stopped treatment.
Jerika wanted to attend a prom before she passed on and was surprised at how people rallied around her and raised $32,000 to give her the best one ever. Hundreds of people turned up for the July 22 prom to support the 14-year-old for what would turn out to be her last dance. Jerika’s mother, a nurse and single woman had called the prom “J’s Last Dance.” One of Jerika’s favorite celebrities, YouTube music star Richie Giese made a surprising appearance at the prom.
The special prom was to be a celebration of her life.
Jerika Bolen who had prepared for a low-key occasion was surprised over how “awesome” it turned out to be.
“It makes my heart explode. It’s so crazy that people want to come out for little old me.”
Jerika had looked like a princess in a sparkling green gown and was whisked to the venue in a limousine and a parade of squad cars. Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas had instructed the motorcade to take the longest route to the Grand Median in Appleton, so that Jerika could enjoy the view. Her mother had expressed gratitude to everyone who made her daughter feel beautiful and special.
Jordan Schroeter, a Grafton man who lives with the same disease had begged the 14-year-old girl to reverse her decision to die. He had recorded a video on Facebook for Jerika, telling her that the decision to end her life was not the right one.
“Please reconsider your decision. I know your pain and everything you’re talking about, but sweetheart, you have so much left to give.”
Wisconsin - Disability groups ask county to stop Jerika Bolen’s planned death https://t.co/cDmylqpipZ— BA Haller (@Mediadisdat) September 12, 2016
Five disability groups were more direct and vocal over Bolen’s decision to end her life and had petitioned child protection officials to stop the girl from ending her life.
Jen, who shared an unbelievable bond with Jerika, had defended her daughter, admitting that she had steeled herself for the day; her daughter would eventually say she could not take the pain anymore.
Jen said every case of spinal muscular atrophy was unique and that she realized that her daughter had the condition when she was just ehigt months old. Jerika’s mother pointed out that the last three years had grown increasingly difficult for her little girl.
Jerika had the heads of her fermurs removed for pain relief, but it did nothing to dull the consistent pain she felt. In 2013, Jerika had her spine fused and required gastrointestinal surgery when doctors discovered her ventilator could no longer keep up with the rest of her body.
We mourn 14-yr-old Jerika Bolen's suicide today. She did not get suicide prevention as other teens would. This injustice will be applauded.— Not Dead Yet (@NotDeadYetUSA) September 22, 2016
RIP #JerikaBolen. I'm sorry you lived in a world that glorified your death,& perpetuated the idea a disabled life is not worth living.— Jessie Male (@ProfJMale) September 22, 2016
Angry & sickened. Jerika Bolen is dead. Maybe she'd still be alive if ppl had celebrated her *life* even *half* as much as her plan to die.— Stephen Drake (@StephenDrakeNDY) September 22, 2016
“Those who didn’t know Jerika and those who hadn’t been long on their journey simply couldn’t know. Any real parent, who’s seen the suffering, would let her make this decision.”
Jerika Bolen had made peace with herself, believing that going on would have meant greater hurt for her and more trips to the operating table. She said she had been procrastinating with the decision for a long time because she knew the utter grief it would cause her mother, but eventually had to arrive at the painful decision.
The 14-year-old teenager said when she finally made up her mind; she was happy and sad at the same time. Bolen said she wept at the thought of ending her life, but realized that she was going to a better place, a place where the pain and suffering would not follow her, in that she said she found peace and contentment.
Robb Valentyn, director of the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp that Jerika also attended before she passed, said it was amazing how the teen lived her life, despite having the worst form of the incurable disease.
Jerika Bolen was every bit a teenage girl. She loved bright colors and would frequently change the color of her hair to suit her clothes. Bolen also loved alternative music and spent hours watching videos on YouTube.
She was always in the company of friends and nurses playing Pokemon Go, the popular game she described as the “best app ever.”
Did Jerika Bolen reserve the right to end her life?
[Featured Image by Alexey R/iStock]