Forget the red carpet. Saturday night, Felicia Bland rolled out the pink carpet to celebrate her daughter Kerprecia Bullard’s 29th birthday and honor 15 other members of the special populations community.
The 2022 Princess Ball, held at The Charleston in downtown Bowling Green, was the first of its kind. Pink was everywhere, from the cupcake icing to the goody-filled clutch purses gifted during the celebration. The hue even featured in the streaks of Bullard’s hair and birthday sash. The theme was inspired by Bullard.
“I’ve always considered my daughter a princess,” Bland said.
Bland organized the Princess Ball as a way to give back to the community that she said has given her so much as a special needs parent. She wanted to extend her daughter’s birthday celebration to other ladies with differing abilities.
“The ultimate goal is to have the girls feel special for the evening,” Bland said. “I want them to feel beautiful.”
The honored girls included Lucy Colter, Kylandra Dettwiler, Jocelyn Harkins, Jer’ryiah Klokoc “Skye Marie,” Sapphire Marshall, Arionna Porter, Alexis Elliot, Shelby Dean Brown, Chloe Brown, Quensheila James “Queenie,” Breana Rone, Jaden Stamper, Kendra Williams, Dixie Wilson, Kenlee Dean Hunton and Bullard.
After dinner, each took their turn walking down the pink carpet and showing off their attire after being announced by WBKO’s Ana Medina.
Brown walked in first in a Cinderella blue dress. Marshall stopped to strike a runway pose in her black gown. Stamper, a “Frozen” aficionado, donned an-Elsa inspired ensemble. Hunton, the youngest honoree at 5 years old, strutted with confidence in a deep purple dress. Bullard was wheeled down the carpet to close the show in a black gown accessorized with a sparkly white choker.
At the end of the runway, each girl was crowned with a tiara by Gralie Boamah, founder of The MINDS Foundation. The MINDS Foundation, the event’s primary sponsor, is a nonprofit aiming to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness through education, training and access to cost-effective, high-quality care.
Boamah said Bland used to be on the nonprofit’s board, and that her foundation was happy to support the event. She hoped that everyone had a good time and that the honorees felt special.
Sherry Anderson, Williams’ mother, said this was the first event where Williams, who loves to dress up, got to get all dolled up with makeup and an updo.
“I was just excited that for our population of young ladies, that someone would honor them because they’re special,” Anderson said. “They’re just great in their own way and to be recognized like this is wonderful.”
Rondii Klokoc said her daughter Jer’ryiah is here after surviving a 22-pound cancerous ovarian tumor last October. Her pink carpet entry was met with much applause.
Suzie Wilson came with her four foster kids and adopted daughter, which include honorees Dixie Wilson and Kylandra Dettwiler. The princess ball was their “girls’ night,” according to Vaya Schutz, one of Wilson’s foster daughters.
“We’re just here to have a blast, have fun, enjoy all this food,” Wilson said.
What would a princess ball be without a star appearance? United States of America’s Mrs. Kentucky 2023 Erica Hildreth made a surprise appearance at the event, to the delight of many of the honorees.
Hildreth, who is originally from Glasgow, said she loved seeing the girls’ faces light up when they saw her decked out in a Cinderella-esque outfit.
“How could you not show up and support something so amazing?” Hildreth asked. “It means something to them, it’s special, and every little girl, every person should feel special because they are.”
Hildreth spoke to the attendees after the tiara presentation, telling the honorees that even when they take off their tiaras, they all wear “invisible crowns.”
“Every girl is a princess. It’s all about doing good in the world and you don’t need a crown and sash to do that,” she said.
The ball had a laundry list of sponsors, including WBKO, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, TJ Sampson Community Hospital, KY STEPS, Cornerview Community Church and The Charleston.
Robyn Ford, owner of The Charleston, said the venue had a rare opening Saturday night, and so she offered it to Bland for free. Ford had known Bland ever since they met at a special needs event years ago, she said, and she “wanted to use the space for the best use possible.”
“It’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of,” Ford said.
After singing Happy Birthday to Bullard, the honorees traded the pink carpet for a dance floor. And at the end of the night, each princess left with a tiara, a goody bag full of beauty products and a memory that won’t expire at midnight.