The East Meadow Fire Department Headquarters was packed on Feb. 9 as guests spent the day enjoying music, taking part in raffles and comforting one another as they rallied behind the family of Michael Smith.
Stacked on tables and lining the walls were dozens of different prizes and gift baskets donated by corporate sponsors, community groups and local residents.
Michael Smith finished his term as captain last April, when his health began to decline. For seven months he grew more ill, until he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in November. “He had no idea he was sick,” Ciaccio said. “That’s what scared us all.”
Smith died on Dec. 28, at age 55.
After his diagnosis, EMFD members planned a fundraiser on Feb. 9 to help offset his medical expenses. After hearing of his death, they decided that the event would go on as scheduled, to celebrate his life and offer financial support to his wife, Victoria, and their two daughters.
Smith was born in New Hyde Park on Dec. 16, 1964. He was a member of the New Hyde Park Fire Department for six years before moving to East Meadow and joining the EMFD in 1998. In 2001 he joined Engine Company No. 2. He was elected the company’s second lieutenant in 2016, first lieutenant the following year and captain in 2018.
John O’Brien Sr., an ex-chief of the department, described Smith as “a man who exemplified the true dedication, and commitment, of this outstanding company.”
“Even guys who moved away are coming back for the fundraiser,” Ciaccio said, adding that EMFD members paid for the event themselves.
Tickets were $10 and the event included music, food, raffles and a Chinese auction. Firefighter Anthony Russo’s wife, Kim, a psychic known as the Happy Medium, did gallery-style readings at the event for $50 each and meet-and-greets were an additional $20.
To donate to the Smith family, mail a contribution to Engine Company No. 2 headquarters, at 197 East Meadow Ave. in East Meadow, or donate via Venmo at SmithFundRaiser2020@gmail.com.