Local News

In memory of daughters, Fayetteville woman funds dance dreams

Posted April 14, 2017 4:31 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2017 5:43 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville widow is turning her grief into hope for others.

Louise Cantrell lost her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell, and two daughters in a house fire in 2012. In their memory, she established the Dancing Angels Foundation to fund scholarships for other young people.

Jordan Stephens is one of the beneficiaries. She calls her Dancing Angels aid "life changing."

Stephens has been dancing since the age of 3. Now 16, her dream of becoming a professional dancer is a little closer.

"It (the Dancing Angels scholarship) enabled me to go to Alvin Ailey and Joffrey," she said, name-checking two internationally known dance companies based in New York City.

"It really helped me dance better and, you know, it opened up so many doors for me. Now I'm getting so many other opportunities."

Cantrell started the foundation because her daughters loved to dance. Since the loss of her family, she has funded dance education for 19 students from all over the country. This year, three young men are the recipients, including Joshua Ponton, who's headed to The Juilliard School in New York.

"It touches my heart," Cantrell said.

"It's very emotional for me. I'm happy. I'm happy that, out of something so bad and tragic, something positive could come out of it. And when is see these dancers dance, I think, 'You know what? They're doing that in memory of my daughters.'"

That inspiration is never far from the minds of the dancers.

"I think about them all the time," Stephens said. "If I have a hard day at dance, I'm like, 'Wow, I'm dancing.' I'm going to do this for them."

The Dancing Angels Foundation is holding its annual fundraiser April 22 at the Special Forces Association on Doc Bennett Road in Fayetteville.