Appleton community reacts to firefighter’s death

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Members of the Appleton community are still in shock after Wednesday’s events, but some quickly mobilized to help remember the life of Mitchell Lungaard.

While there are still more details to come about Wednesday night, right now people are trying to heal.

“Very confused, not knowing what happened and why it happened,” says Appleton resident Ashley Dern. “Regardless, we’re just really just heartbroken.”

It’s not unlike small communities to rally together in hopes that in sadness, you can find comfort somewhere.

“When something this big and this tragic happens in a community that’s as small as Appleton I think people are really looking to connect in a spiritual way, in a relational way with one another,” says Mike Novotny, a pastor for The Core. “So we thought we’d create a safe space so people could have some time to pray and especially to connect with one another.”

Everyone, even this pastor admittedly didn’t know what to expect from a prayer vigil.

But at the end of the day, a show of support was the end goal.

“I think it’s very important for all of us in this community and all communities to show your support for firefighters and law enforcement,” says Dern. “They put their lives on the line for us every single day.”

Mitch, as he’s been lovingly called, is gone.

But his work, the desire to save lives is what people want to honor and remember.

“Flowers aren’t going to bring anybody back, but just coming here showing that you support your community, showing that you care,” says Dern. “I think a lot of people drive by places like this every single day and they don’t really think about the people in this building that put their lives on the line every day.”

If you’d like to make a donation to the Lundgaard family or visit his memorial you can stop by fire station 1 in Appleton.

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