Scholarship honors Hope Mills girls killed in fire
Posted February 29, 2016
Hope Mills, N.C. — A Hope Mills woman who lost her Special Forces husband and two daughters in a tragic house fire is using the horrific event to help others with scholarships in memory of her family.
To dance on a big stage in fancy costumers was the dream of 4-year-old Natalia Cantrell and her 6-year-old sister Isabella.
“They loved to dance. It didn’t matter if they were in a store or anywhere. If there was music playing, they were twirling somewhere,” said their mother, Louise Cantrell.
The dreams of both girls were tragically cut short on March 6, 2012, when they were trapped in their century-old burning house. Louise Cantrell and her husband, CW2 Edward Cantrell, had jumped from a second floor window to escape the fire but ran back into the house to rescue his daughters. All three were found dead inside the home.
“I don’t remember a whole lot about that night. I just know what the end result was that night and I lost my whole family within minutes,” said Louise Cantrell.
Louise Cantrell doesn’t like talking about the night she lost her husband and daughters, but she does like to talk about the future and helping other young girls obtain their dreams of dancing on the big stage. She created the Dancing Angels Foundation.
“Last year we gave out four [scholarships]. We gave out one to a young lady named Jordan Stevens who we were able to help her attend a full year at Joffrey Ballet in New York City,” Louise Cantrell said.
Attending a school like Joffrey Ballet can cost between $5,000 and $7,000. Cantrell said providing that money in memory of her family is priceless.
“I thought it was the most appropriate way to commemorate them and every time a scholarship is given out, it’s in honor of Isabella and Natalia Cantrell and their memory goes on and their names are spoken,” Louise Cantrell said.
On April 16, the Special Forces Association will give Louise Cantrell a Purple Heart in memory of her husband. They will then hold an Honor Ride on motorcycles from the spot where the family’s house caught fire on Pecan Drive to the Special Forces Association building on Doc Bennett Road, in Hope Mills. The event will raise funds for the Dancing Angels Foundation.
Edward Cantrell was a recipient of four Bronze Star medals and a Purple Heart. He served with the 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg. He had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan at the time of his death.