Wisconsin firefighters thank young girl for her kind gesture

(WBAY Photo)

GREEN BAY, Wisc. (WBAY) — It’s been a difficult and emotional week for members of the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

Monday they laid one of their own to rest. While they grieved, there was a shining ray of light that lifted their spirits – a little girl who they now think the world of.

Firefighters usually fire up their trucks when someone needs help, but on Thursday crews went out to treat someone who helped them.

“Just to have somebody, a little girl, do a very kind act like that, and she didn’t need any recognition, she wasn’t looking for anything, just did something really kind for us,” says firefighter Kurt Vande Kolk, “…and that makes you appreciate people and the community that we have and who we serve here.”

“It helps to distract you from things that are negative and put a positive spin on it,” says firefighter Adam Vandenbush.

It all started with lemonade.

Ten-year-old Lauren Johnson had her dad flag down fire crews as they were leaving the scene of a basement fire on Sunday. She gave them cup after cup of free lemonade to cool down after fighting the blaze.

At the time, Lauren didn’t know they were grieving the loss of a friend, Lt. Michael Miller, who died in his sleep while on duty on June 20.

It wasn’t until later Sunday she heard of what happened to Lt. Miller. Lauren wanted to help and asked her parents if they could donate the money she made at the lemonade stand to Miller’s family. Her family delivered the $24 that same night.

The next day, as the funeral procession taking Lt. Miller on his final journey through Green Bay to his final resting place, casket draped in an American flag mounted atop a Green Bay fire truck, Lauren and her family stood by the road and waved goodbye.

“Sometimes, when you go through tragedy like that, small things mean more than a lot of people will ever know,” says Lt. Chad Bronkhorst, president of Green Bay Area Firefighters.

Thursday, the department pulled out all the stops to say thanks to Lauren. They picked her up, along with her siblings, and drove them to Zesty’s in Allouez for ice cream.

While at Zesty’s, a surprise no one saw coming: The owner cut a check for $250 and gave it to Lauren so she could donate to Lt. Miller’s family again.

“That comes completely off as a shock to us,” said Bronkhorst. “It’s a great example of what happens when one person does something nice and the trickle down effect to that. To get a donation like that from Zesty’s to the family’s fund is… I don’t even know what to say.”

“Makes me feel like I did something really good, and that now other people want to do it, too,” said Lauren while eating ice cream, surrounded by her siblings and firefighters.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s a loss for words,” says Lauren’s father Adam. “You can’t describe the feeling of knowing that a little girl can do so much.”

The department says what Lauren and her family did meant the world to them this week.

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