WESTFIELD, NJ — A GoFundMe page benefiting the family of Westfield firefighter Michael Lanza was created Tuesday by Westfield FMBA Local 30, the labor union that represents firefighters working for the Westfield Fire Department.

Lanza, who was 35 years old, died suddenly last week, leaving behind his wife, Annett, and children,  Anthony and Charlotte. 

“On 2/22/2017, our friend and brother, Michael Lanza, passed away,” a message on the site reads. “His untimely death has left the family with final expenses, and our goal is to help establish a trust fund for his children. 

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“Mike was a career fireman with the Town of Westfield Fire Dept with 14 years of service and answered numerous calls to help others. But more importantly Mike was a devoted husband, and a exemplary loving father two his children. Now, it's our turn to answer the call to help his family. To donate, click here.

“Any donation large or small will help our cause. Please help us remember our brother, whom we miss dearly, and honor his service to our community.”

Lanza was also the leader of Pack 98's Den 3 (Coles School) in Scotch Plains. Some highlights of his time with Den 3 were:

  • hiking through Fanwood Nature Preserve
  • teaching them about hike safety
  • camping in Watchung and Winnebago
  • touring them through his Westfield Fire House
  • leading a bike ride through Ponderosa Park to learn about bike safety
  • helping them make bird feeders with recycled materials
  • teaching them about healthy eating
  • teaching them about team work by having them run through an obstacle course

"He really loved the kids and they loved being with him," said Kerry Ricci.