The night she had been dreading had finally arrived. Standing in front of the mirror, the panic suddenly hit her hard. Her dress started to squeeze her chest and heat began to prickle up her neck.
Looking into her own eyes, she watched the tears start to fall. She ran to her mother, sobbing. Little did she know, the bikers were about to knock on her door.
16-year-old Shannon Purcifer was just like any other teen — she looked forward to prom and couldn’t wait to enjoy the night out with her boyfriend in her special dress.
Only, for Shannon, going to prom wouldn’t be so simple. She was suffering through a series of health conditions and had been for several years. But it wasn’t her illness that prevented her from living her prom dream.
Shannon struggled with celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. She spent years in and out of hospitals.
And to top it all off, her classmates were less than sympathetic to her condition. In fact, Shannon had become a target for the bullies at her school. The nasty teens had been teasing and tormenting her for years. As you can imagine, this only made things worse.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the innermost lining of the large intestine. The symptoms develop and get progressively worse over time.
Unfortunately, there is no cure. Shannon’s mother had come to terms with the fact that her daughter would have flare-ups for the rest of her life. But there was another aspect of her illness that she just couldn’t accept.
The constant stress of being targeted by her classmates caused flare-ups, which made Shannon’s condition even more difficult to manage.
It was a vicious cycle that she had to learn to live with over the years. But, so far, she’d managed to stay positive and keep her head held high… until one fateful day.
Shannon, like all girls, had been excited to attend her prom. She and her mother had even found the perfect dress several months in advance — a gorgeous floor-length white gown with lace detailing that had set her back by around $600.
But something happened in the months leading up to the big night that shattered her dreams.
Shannon is one of four siblings. Her family was there to support her every step of the way as she battled with her health conditions.
And her family was also there to notice the effects that the incessant bullying at school was beginning to have on her psyche. Shannon became more withdrawn and had not been acting like herself in the weeks leading up to her prom…
Shannon’s mom, Claire Carstens, helplessly watched as her daughter’s behavior changed. “It was horrendous,” she said in an interview.
“It’ was going on for so long. I tried so hard to make it stop, but the school didn’t help us. I felt powerless, really. There wasn’t anything I could do but listen to her.” Then, on the night of the prom, the situation reached a boiling point.
On the night of her prom, Shannon suddenly had a change of heart. She went to her mother with her tears falling down onto her beautiful prom dress.
“I didn’t really want to go and feel nervous for the entire night,” Shannon said. “I didn’t want to miss out and wanted to enjoy it with my friends, but the bullying got worse and worse.”
Shannon had decided that it would be better if she missed out on her own prom.
She just couldn’t endure the thought of being tormented on what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of her high school career. That was when her heartbroken mother snapped the photo that would be a turning point in her life.
Shannon’s mom decided to post the photo on Facebook. “If Shannon had gone to her prom tonight she would have worn this beautiful dress. Thanks to those mean, vile bullies Shannon decided she didn’t want to go and mix with those that made her life so unpleasant,” she wrote.
“For a girl that has had so much to deal with in life…. ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis, she is one strong young lady with an even stronger mind!! Love you girl.” Little did she know, the post would go on to touch the hearts of so many.
Kerri Louise Kimber, one of Shannon’s friends, decided that she would throw Shannon her own prom, and only those who are close to her would attend. Claire thought it was a great idea and created a Go Fund Me page to raise funds.
In just a few days, their page went beyond their goal, $650 of $195! Shannon’s prom would only have 100 people. Her entire family will also be able to join in the celebration and attend her prom with her. But that wasn’t all…
On the night of Shannon’s special prom, she got her nails, hair, and make-up done. And when it was time for her to leave, there were 120 bikers waiting for her!
The group had seen the now-viral post and offered to personally escort her to the venue! “There’s no better way to stand up to the bullies than to go out and live life to the fullest,” Shannon’s mom explained. And Shannon described her exclusive prom as “better than I could ever have dreamed!”