Deerfield Twp. community coming together to honor late junior high student

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - The sudden death of a local student is hitting one Tri-State community hard, but they're responding by rallying together and supporting his family.

Jonah Lantz, who was set to be an eighth grader at Kings Junior High School this year, passed away Sunday from sudden cardiac arrest.

Family friends said that Jonah had struggled with medical issues throughout his life, but his death was still extremely unexpected.

"When people leave so suddenly, we find ourselves saying, man, if I could just talk to him for five more minutes," Andy Olds, who is the Kings High School Head Football Coach and was Jonah's Physical Education teacher in Junior High, said.

Those who knew Jonah said that he was always optimistic and a true fighter.

Some of Jonah's former teachers, like Denice Rutkousky, described Jonah as vivacious and said that he had a contagious smile.

"If you meet Jonah, you never forget him - ever again," Aaron Szabo, one of Jonah's former teachers, said.

Jonah's love for life made a difference in the lives of many. As people learned of his passing, they started placing blue ribbons all around Deerfield Township and Mason. There are decorated trees, mailboxes and street signs.

"We've got to make this really, really tough situation into a good situation," Olds said.

Blue was Jonah's favorite color.

"Seeing it firsthand is quite overwhelming because it just shows how much this community truly loves and supports each other," Hope Cantrall, a close family friend, said when she saw the ribbons.

They're keeping Jonah's memory alive. Jonah's loved ones said that there is no doubt that he would love it.

"Jonah would say that this was awesome, and the Lantz family is very, very thankful," Cantrell said.

To help the family, friends have started the Jonah Lantz Memorial Fund at Fifth Third Bank. Anyone who would like to donate can do so at any Fifth Third location.

They are also collecting donations through a PayPal page. Cantrell said the money will go towards funeral expenses.

Funeral services for Jonah will be held on Thursday, August 3 at Christ's Church in Mason located at 5165 Western Row Road. Visitation will take place from 2:00-4:00 p.m. with funeral services following at 4:00 p.m.  

The Kings School District is also offering counseling services for students and families in the front lobby of Kings Junior High School on Thursday, August 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The school will also provide supplies for people to leave notes, funny stories or memories of Jonah for Jonah's family.

Jonah's parents wanted to share this statement with the community:

"We are comforted by Gods' love through the outpouring of support through our neighborhood and school district. The Lord has been good in the midst of this tragedy and we look to the day when we can be with our sweet boy, Jonah."

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