How one photo changed everything for this bullied teen

Bullying in high school is an epidemic that has its roots in almost every school. Children who are not taught to embrace those who are different are usually those who are on the giving end of the bullying exchange, while those who are different or envied are the ones that are on the receiving end. In the UK and US, bullying (now with the added edge of cyber bullying) has become an issue that cannot be ignored. Shannon Purcifer has been on the receiving end of bullying for years. She decided not to go to her high school prom to avoid her bullies. Her mother, Claire, was not having it and decided to pull out all the stops with the help of kind strangers and community members.

Starting from the end

Shannon Purcifer is just like any other high schooler – she wanted to go to prom to enjoy a night out with her boyfriend and experience all that high school had to offer. Unfortunately, bullies at her school prevented Shannon from fulfilling her prom dream. She has been a victim of bullying for years, getting more and more extreme as the years go on. Shannon is bullied because of her illness – ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.



Shannon spent a lot of money, around $600, for her prom dress. The beautiful floor-length white gown had her looking like a princess. Shannon and her mother purchased the dress back in February, getting very giddy and excited about prom night. Sadly, the bullying got so bad that Shannon decided to stay home on the night of the prom, she didn’t want to be in the same room as the students who have been making her life a living hell.



The reason for the endless bullying has to do with Shannon’s illness. At 16 years old, Shannon has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and arthritis. “Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine (colon camera.gif). It usually affects the lower section (sigmoid colon) and the rectum. But it can affect the entire colon. In general, the more of the colon that’s affected, the worse the symptoms will be.”


Social media push

Shannon’s mother, Claire, was so upset that her daughter opted out of her own prom, that she posted the photos of Shannon in her gown with the following caption: “If Shannon had gone to prom tonight she would of worn this beautiful dress. Thanks to nasty vile bullies Shannon decided she didn’t want to go and mix with scum that made her so miserable. For a girl that has had so much to deal with in life….coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, she is one strong young lady with an even stronger mind!!”


Prom please

Claire went from devastated to determined. She and other members of Shannon’s community decided that they were going to throw Shannon her own prom and have only those who are close to her attend. In order to make the event happen, Claire opened a Go Fund Me page to raise money. In a matter of days, the page got well beyond the funding it needed – £500 of £150 goal! The alternative prom will be attended by 100 people. Shannon will arrive in her prom dress escorted by a fleet of scooters. Her entire family, including her step-father and siblings will be in attendance.

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Meeting Prince William

Shannon has had the good fortune of meeting two famous faces. The first being the very royal and very sweet Prince William. As a caption to the photo, Shannon wrote: “Can’t believe I talked to him 🙂 might be a mug of me but this picture means so much.” Meeting the prince was a moving experience for her, the UK native. This photo is from May 2017 and was perfect timing to bring Shannon’s spirits up.


Meeting Shane Bryne

An earlier photo here is with super bike star Shane Byrne. She met him at an autograph signing after one of the many biking events. As we can see, Shannon likes to play around with her looks, dying her hair and experimenting with makeup. She is stunning with or without any alterations. To see her during happy moments shows how lovely this teenage girl is, and just how vicious it is to bully her.


The younger siblings

Shannon is the second-eldest of four. She has an older brother and two younger siblings – a brother and a sister. Her brothers and sister were there to witness Shannon’s ups and down with her illness, as well as the ramifications of bullying. When it comes to her disease, Shannon takes five pills per day just to manage her conditions and is set to start university this coming fall. Of her bullying, Shannon said, It was really difficult to cope with. They used to call me the most terrible names. I couldn’t even repeat any of them. It was really bad stuff, then it spread to text messages and social media. I had to change my number but somehow they still found me.”


Diagnosed at 14 years old

Shannon was diagnosed when she was 14 years old. She spent two weeks in the hospital getting tests done to confirm that she indeed suffers from ulcerative colitis. It was earlier this year that Shannon was diagnosed with arthritis as well. Shannon said, “The worst pain I have is the arthritis. It’s in every joint. Some people didn’t believe I had it and said I was faking.” Shannon couldn’t imagine why people thought she would fake such a condition.


The older generations

Shannon’s mother and grandmother were heart broken for Shannon when she decided not to attend her prom. They only knew that girl who was selfless and brave who has gone through hardships but still remained sweet and considerate of others. On her prom, Shannon said, “On the night of the prom I didn’t really do anything. I was too upset. I saw my boyfriend, Lee, but I knew I couldn’t face it. It was difficult because I’d been looking forward to it for ages, but now I’m excited for this one. I’m really touched by all the effort people have put in to it.”


Hair donation – before

Speaking of selfless Shannon, back in June, she donated her waist-length hair and cut it off for cancer research. Here is the before photo. Shannon’s long dark hair was her pride and joy but she knew that it would grow back and that awareness for another disease is far more important than than having long hair. The next page shows the ‘during’ part of the process, preparing her hair to be cut.


Hair donation – during

Claire, Shannon’s mom, documented the entire thing. She posted it on her personal Facebook page and captioned it, “Shannon had her hair chopped off today for cancer research and is donating her hair!! Proud mum.” The images got a lot of recognition and many comments. The fact that Shannon didn’t let bullying take her down but kept thinking of others and what they were going through is evidence to her powerful character and incredible personality.


Hair donation – after

Shannon will be going to her alternative prom with a short bob of a haircut and looking as gorgeous as ever! Claire said about the prom: “It’s going to be a full prom. Some very kind people have offered to do her hair, we’ve got decorations, everything. She’s a beautiful young girl and I’m so proud of her for sticking two fingers up at the bullies. She wanted to join the Navy like her dad but can’t because of her health so she’s looking into a career in law or engineering.”


Shannon’s boyfriend

Despite the bullying, Shannon does have friends and even has a boyfriend. There are those in her school who stood by her, which is heartwarming to see. Shannon and her boyfriend, Lee, have been together for a while and she seems to be entirely smitten with him. Lee will obviously be at Shannon’s new prom and will be one of many to push her around the dance floor. The bullies are obviously NOT invited to this wild party.



Shannon’s brothers and little sister are always there for her. In terms of her school and what they had to say about the bullying, “Although we cannot comment on individual pupil matters, as a school we work hard with all pupils who experience bullying to help resolve the issues they are experiencing. The school prom was, as always, a safe and happy event. The alternative prom is a lovely idea. It is a great example of the positive power of social media, and we hope it is a great success.”


The whole family

It makes our blood boil to see such a beautiful girl get bullied, especially over an illness she had no control over getting. The entire Purcifer-Carstens family has rallied behind Shannon and has been her pillars of strength. On July 4th, Claire wrote on her Facebook page: “Can’t believe how well Shannons prom is all coming together. So many people offering their services for free and we’ve so far raised £415!! This isn’t all about bad mouthing the school but the school certainly needs to sort out bullying as soon as they are aware of it. This is about showing all those nasty bullies that they won’t win and also showing anyone that is being bullied, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”


Young ones

The Daily Mail UK covered Shannon’s story since the post her mother and friend put up went viral. Once Shannon’s story hit the mainstream media in the UK, Shannon’s story took on a life of its own and brought bullying back up to the forefront of British minds. The issue of bullying has taken a huge turn for the worse with social media and the ability to see everything and everyone at any given time.



Once the Daily Mail wrote about Shannon, other publications followed. Her story went on to be featured on Portsmouth community website as well. Telling the story of a girl who has been bullied but has been embraced by her community and the bullies silenced due to shame. The Gosport community knows who bullied Shannon, but for their own protection decided not to be as mean as them and put their names out there.


Shannon and Claire

Shannon’s step father is as supportive of her as if her were her biological father (Daniel Purcifer, a Royal Navy Petty Officer who was killed in 2007 in Germany). On the matter of bullying he said, “What we want from this is to show bullying should be a zero-tolerance action throughout all schools because it’s one of the worst things young people can go through and that good things happen to good people and that there are many selfless people in this world who care for people they have never met.”



Despite being bullied, Shannon has kept her grades and exam scores up and is doing very well. She has persevered through one of the hardest social situations one can go through during school and didn’t let the lifeless children to influence her future plans. The alternative prom for Shannon has brought her community closer than ever and a new and important light on the issue of bullying.


Prom night!

Shannon finally got the prom she deserved all along on Saturday, July 22, 2017. She was brought there by a long parade of bikers who made sure she got to her prom without incident. She looked like an absolute princess with her white gown, tiara and adorable updo. She spent the evening dancing with her family and friends and looked as blissful as can be.



Shannon and her mother did a duet together during the prom, which took place at a venue hall. The prom had everything a normal one would – lighting, music, delicious food, and lots of loved ones. Shannon’s prom took an even special turn since it was created by her community in response to her bullying. The beautiful Shannon got the last laugh if we do say so ourselves and are beyond happy that she got the night she always wanted.



Shannon and her friends danced the night away and were having the best night ever. On July 23rd, 2o17, her step father posted these photos to show the world how a community came together to make a night to remember. Shannon, having been bullied for so long, got a taste of the good in people thanks to this event. We think that this event is a physical manifestation of the restoring the faith.


Special delivery

The bell of the ball was brought in to the prom venue by her biker escorts! Shannon was ready from head to toe to dance her feet off and enjoy a prom that was dedicated entirely to her! The bullies could only wish to be a part of such a special night. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that those vile children made such a fuss about Shannon, she wouldn’t have had this night to remember. We will remember that smile for a long time to come.


Prom 2.0

Now that we are after the fact, we are happy to report that Shannon had the BEST NIGHT EVER! She got escorted as she was told she would be, her friends were there – her real friends, her family and everyone in her community who made sure that Shannon got the prom she deserved. Shannon’s story stole the internets attention for several days and is sure to captivate new readers of this lovely story.


Special day

The day of the prom came and went but the memories of it will be with Shannon forever. She was swept up her feet by the community that she calls home and the many individuals who went above and beyond to make sure she didn’t get defeated by the bullies at her school. On her Facebook page, Shannon wrote: “Such an amazing night! Thank you so much for everything everyone did for me last night, I love you all.”


Media splash

The UK media went crazy over Shannon’s story. From the moment they heard that she was having an alternative prom created for her until today, the news have been all over this story. Shannon’s mom, Claire, posted on her own Facebook page the various links and images to the press articles about the event. Some of the publications that covered the story were The Sun, The Daily Mail, Metro, and The Mirror.


Family affair

Here Shannon is posing for a photo with her brother and little sister. Shannon looks positively radiant and her siblings are beaming with pride and joy for their sister. Her boyfriend, Lee, wrote on her Facebook wall: “Sooooooo beautiful, I enjoyed yesterday so much.” Shannon replied, “Oh shhh 😉 and same! Thank you for being my prom date.” These two are just so cute! Many others congratulated her and told her how beautiful she looked. We certainly agree!


Real friends

This event showed Shannon who her true friends are. Here Shannon is photographed with her brother to her right (our left) and other friends. The prom went off without a hitch and the evening as a whole was sensational! This is the epitome of a happy ending. We hope that the bullies in question are being reprimanded for their actions and feel terrible for being so vile towards a young girl. Luckily for Shannon, she has a support system to boot and is going to go on and shine.