Bedford girl who loved ballet loses cancer battle

New Hampshire Union Leader
December 03. 2013 10:51PM

Up until early November, Riley Wolf practiced with fellow dancers for their upcoming performances of "The Nutcracker."

But last weekend, the teenage daughter of Bedford school board Chairman Terry Wolf lost her battle with cancer, the same weekend Riley's dance troupe performed the Christmas classic at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

Wolf, 15, died Sunday from a "very rare form of cancer," the family said in an email to friends.

"Riley will be remembered for her fierce determination, wicked sense of humor, love of ballet and grace in impossible circumstances," the statement said.

According to close family friend Lori Ashooh, the Bedford High freshman didn't let on to most people that she was sick.

"She just kept it private and didn't want sympathy," Ashooh said Tuesday. "She held her head high. It sounds so cliché, but she always stayed very positive and she knew what the outcome was going to be. She didn't let it get in the way."

According to her online obituary, Wolf started dancing at the Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater (SNHDT) in Bedford when she was 8.

"She performed in 'The Nutcracker' at the Palace Theatre for six years, including her dream role of Clara in 2011," her obituary said. "She loved SNHDT so much, when they relocated their studios a few years ago, she asked them to include a sleeping area so she wouldn't have to leave on the weekends."

Ashooh said the teenager was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma in December 2011, discovered 10 days before she performed as Clara.

She underwent radiation, chemotherapy and at least three surgeries and "continued to dance whenever possible until the beginning of November," Ashooh said.

In early October, the Wolf family met the cast of TV's "Modern Family" in Los Angeles, thanks to Make-A-Wish New Hampshire.

Endowed fund

The Bedford Education Foundation, a nonprofit group that raises and provides funds for the benefit of Bedford's public schools, announced it will establish and manage an endowment fund in her memory.

"Riley was an enthusiastic and accomplished dancer, and we feel it is appropriate to honor her memory by putting in place an endowment which will be used to fund future grants to support the performing arts in the Bedford schools," said an email from Paul Brock, the foundation's chairman. "The Wolf family supports this initiative."

Family members include her parents, Dave and Terry Wolf; her sister, Reagan; and little brother, Ronan; grandparents Tom and Kay Wolf of Long Island, N.Y., and Glenn and Cindy Moore of North Rose, N.Y.

Services will take place Thursday with visiting hours from 3 to 5 p.m. and a memorial service from 5 to 6 p.m. at Phaneuf Funeral Home, 250 Coolidge Ave., Manchester.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship also has been established in Wolf's name "that recognizes a dancer at Riley's studio who shares the same passion for ballet that she did," the obituary said.

Donations may be sent to: Southern New Hampshire Youth Ballet – Riley Wolf, P.O. Box 10286, Bedford 03110.

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