They came from California, Florida, Indiana and points in-between. A YouTube star made a surprise appearance, members of a favorite boy band poured their hearts out in a video message and flowers arrived from around the world.
All for a 14-year-old girl from Appleton, Wis., they had never met.
Jerika Bolen has spinal muscular atrophy type 2. The disease destroys nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle activity, and a lack of movement causes the muscles to waste away. Jerika has never walked, and she said her pain is a seven on a scale of one to 10 on her best days. She can speak and has some movement of her hands, but the disease — and the pain — are only going to get worse.
Earlier this summer, with the support of her ever-dedicated mother, Jen, she decided that, while she can still make her desires known, she will be put in Hospice care, unhook her ventilator and die.