Jerika Bolen dies two months after her “Last Dance”

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – 14-year-old Jerika Bolen, an Appleton girl whose decision to have a prom before she died, passed away in hospice care — ending a lifelong battle with a painful and incurable disease.

Jerika suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II, or SMA. She told us in July she was in a wheelchair as long as she can remember. She was unable to move most of her body, with the exception of her hand and parts of her face.

And she wanted to stop using the ventilator that helped her breathe.

Her mother, Jen Bolen, said it was something they discussed for several years.

She told us Thursday, “I love her with every cell of me, and I am happy she is no longer suffering and thankful for all she has given me.”

On July 22, the community helped Jerika realize her wish that she called her “Last Dance.” With her hair done up and wearing a fancy prom dress, Jerika was greeted by hundreds of people. Local businesses contributed to the event. Supporters from all over the country sent flowers.

Earlier this month, a Colorado-based disability rights organization asked child protective services to intervene and prevent Jerika from ending her treatment. Jen Bolen said she agreed with her daughter’s choice to go into hospice care.

Alton Olson of SoundFire DJ was among those who contributed to Jerika’s prom.

Olson said, “Jerika was shy and a little quiet, but she was very sweet.”

He added, “She really does show us we really do have everything we want to get out of life if we just have the right attitude.”

Others who knew Jerika felt the same way.

Lisa Grassman is the owner of Wedding Perfect and also contributed to the prom.

Grassman said after finding out about Jerika’s death, “I was sad, but at the same time I know it’s what Jerika wanted ultimately to be pain free, and that’s what she is now. So although it’s a sad day it’s also one that everyone will hold in their hearts for sure.”

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