Kerprecia Bullard was about to turn 29 years old on July 30th, 2022. Her mother Felicia Bland had always wanted to give Kerprecia a special and unique birthday party, a Princess Ball!
The theme “princess ball” is one of great familiarity. The first known ball was hosted in 1780 by George III in honor of his wife Queen Charlotte. As a result, balls became an annual event and have continued throughout history.
Princess balls come with such fanfare. There is much hustle and bustle and much ado about most everything! Girls of all ages excitedly look for “that” dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the hairdo, and the makeup. Excitement is in the air, everywhere!
The Charleston, a local venue in Bowling Green, Kentucky that hosts weddings and other special occasions, was donated for the evening due to a rare opening. The chandeliers glistened brightly. The round tables were covered with white tablecloths, pink runners, and white floral arrangements. The beautiful T-Shaped staircase served as the perfect location for a group picture. It was all sheer elegance!
The mistress of ceremony introduced each of the princesses one by one as they came down the pink runway. Some of the princesses walked freely; some were pushed in wheelchairs, and some had escorts. At the end of the runway, a member of the group called MINDS, Motivating Individuals and Developing Self-worth; a program that targets young girls through age 18, adorned each princess with a tiara.
The princesses were accompanied by family and friends who excitedly snapped pictures of their princess individually and with the special guest, Mrs. Kentucky USA, Erica Hildreth! The honoree, Kerprecia Bullard was the last to come down the pink runway. As Kerprecia’s mother pushed her down the runway in her wheelchair, Kerprecia smiled infectiously!
Each princess received gifts that included: a personalized plaque trimmed in gold glitter, a pearl set wrapped in black and white striped paper with a silver ribbon and bow; and a black and white striped gift bag that contained a sundry of gifts. They also received a pink purse with a pearl handle that had even more gifts.
Dinner consisted of chicken tenders, pulled pork, green beans, mashed potatoes, salad, baked potato/potato bar, lemonade, tea, cupcakes, and other desserts. Various individuals and community partners donated nearly everything including the venue, the food and drinks, the gifts, and the decorations. The live DJ even donated his time.
At the conclusion of dinner, Kerprecia was honored by the group who presented her with gifts as they sang Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday.” Kerprecia was indeed the “special princess”!
When her mother, Ms. Bland shared her idea with other parents, she could only hope to have a minimum of fifteen princesses. To her surprise, the idea took off like a wildfire, and in less than 30 days, her wish to having her daughter a princess ball to share with other young ladies who faced physical and/or intellectual disabilities came to fruition.
Kerprecia had an injury at the age of four that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. The prognosis as given by the physicians was bleak. The doctors suggested that Ms. Bland put Kerprecia in a home for children with special needs, but Ms. Bland refused.
Ms. Bland asked if my niece Kendra Williams could be a participant in the first-ever Princess Ball for young ladies with special needs; despite it being just a couple of weeks away, I jumped at the opportunity. Kendra wore a black laced dress with a cross body sequenced purse, a white pearl necklace and earrings, black laced gloves, and black patent leather shoes. There was another special guest to assist the girls, a makeup artist. Kendra had on makeup for the first time in her life. She looked so adorable.
Kendra was born at 26 weeks gestation and weighed less than one pound at birth. She, the lone surviving triplet spent more than one year in the NICU after her birth.
I became Kendra’s caretaker and guardian when she was 18 months old. Kendra had a tracheotomy, a feeding tube, and 24-hour, 7 days a week of nursing. She relied heavily on oxygen for her daily living. She had faced several life-threatening crises and had nine critical surgeries. Her life expectancy was low. The hospital staff nicknamed Kendra “the multi-million dollar baby.”
Kendra is a high school freshman this year and will celebrate her 15th birthday in November. She is intellectually disabled, non-verbal at present, and no longer has the limitations of a trach or a feeding tube.
It was a joy to have Kendra participate in the first-ever Princess Ball 2022, a ball for young girls and ladies with special needs. This important event recognized and honored a population of young ladies often gets overlooked. “Every girl has a princess inside including Kendra Williams.”
A special thank with sincere gratitude is extended to Ms. Bland for following through on her dreams. We are excitedly looking forward to the Ball of 2023.