Madison Wiens / Reflections School of Dance
                                Len Wiens (left) presents a $10,000 check to the Comfort family — (from left) Kaelyn, 18, Jonathan, Ann Marie, Abigail, 10, Zander, 3, and Damon, 22, at the Reflections School of Dance’s “Celebrate Life” benefit recital.

Madison Wiens / Reflections School of Dance Len Wiens (left) presents a $10,000 check to the Comfort family — (from left) Kaelyn, 18, Jonathan, Ann Marie, Abigail, 10, Zander, 3, and Damon, 22, at the Reflections School of Dance’s “Celebrate Life” benefit recital.

As dad faces terminal cancer, gift lets family keep its home

The Comfort family had no idea they’d receive a $10,000 check at a benefit dance recital.

MILL CREEK — As Ann Marie Comfort and her family stood on stage in an auditorium of strangers and acquaintances Saturday, they felt anything but alone.

The family of six, with number seven on the way, all burst into tears when they were presented with a $10,000 check at the Reflections School of Dance’s “Celebrate Life” benefit recital.

For the Comforts, the money meant they could stay in their home in Brier as Ann Marie Comfort’s husband, Jonathan, transitions into hospice.

With the cut to Jonathan’s paycheck as a senior consultant for Microsoft that came with being on disability, Ann Marie said they needed to sell their home and move somewhere cheaper.

Jonathan was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago at 40, and received word in early May that the tumor had progressed suddenly and substantially.

When they received word of the tumor’s progression, they took their house off the market to spend their remaining time together.

“I was hitting that point of ‘I don’t know how I’m going to keep us in our home while we’re going through this process,’” Ann Marie said.

The family’s two girls, Abigail and Kaelyn, had previously danced with Reflections. When owners Len and Debbie Wiens heard about the family’s situation, they nominated them to receive funds from the nonprofit Dancers Against Cancer.

Separately, the Wiens dedicated Saturday’s benefit recital to gathering funds for the Comforts. It ended up generating about $4,000.

The Comfort family had planned to attend the benefit, but were unaware of the larger Dancers Against Cancer donation until they saw the check.

While the Wiens had known the Comforts peripherally through their girls, Len Wiens said they weren’t close friends.

“That’s what I like about this story,” he said.

Ann Marie has been blogging about her family’s experience since her husband was diagnosed with level three Anaplastic Astrocytoma, an inoperable and incurable brain tumor, two years ago. Doctors then estimated his life expectancy as two to three years.

In her blogs, Ann Marie remained confident their story had a purpose. She shared the rollercoaster of pain and hope that came with each doctor’s appointment, new medication and MRI.

“Someday, we WILL see the beauty in this situation,” she wrote in October.

On Saturday, Ann Marie said she felt a wave of relief. At least in the near term, things would be be okay.

“When you go through something like this, you can feel very alone,” she said. “They’re making sure that we don’t, and that’s the best part of it all.”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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