National Drowning Prevention Alliance
     “Lifesaver of the Year” Award 2012 & 2020
        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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Because I Said I would promise keeper – Lifesaver of the Year

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Melissa Zirkle, 440-344-8099
Dave Benjamin, GLSRP Executive Director, 708-903-0166 

Because I said I would promise keeper

Wins National Lifesaver of the Year Award

For turning tragedy into a passion to help others 

Promise - Melissa


MADISON, OHIO – Melissa Zirkle has won the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s (NDPA) Lifesaver of the Year Award.  Zirkle lost her son, Jermaine, 13, in a 2013 Lake Erie drowning accident.

“Everything I’ve done since Jermaine drowned has been to prevent others from the pain of losing a child or a loved one,” said Zirkle.  “I know my efforts will never bring my baby back to this Earth, but I swore that I’d do all I can to raise awareness by using what happened to him.”

“She has turned the tragedy of losing her son into a passion that I’m sure has and will continue to prevent this from happening to others,” Melissa Lewis wrote on Zirkle’s Facebook page. “She deserves this award more than anyone!”

“She has worked so hard to bring awareness to drowning and educate people on prevention,” Carmen Davis posted on Facebook. “She certainly deserves this award because of her hard work while grieving the loss of a child.”

“Melissa has done so much for water safety,” said Bob Pratt executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP).  She is making a HUGE impact in the Great Lakes.” 

Because I said conference 0003

December 8 2013 – Zirkle hosted her first Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting Vigil in Jermaine’s honor.   The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon. As candles are lit at 7:00 p.m. local times, it creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.

05/29/2014, Melissa traveled from Ohio to Chicago to attend a Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) press conference at the Shedd Aquarium.  The press conference announced the launch of a Great Lakes water safety campaign in partnership with the Chicago Park District, the Ohio and Illinois DNR’s, and family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims. The launch was also in coordination with the Great Lakes Commissions “Beach Safety Awareness Week” and the National Weather Service’s “Rip Current Awareness Week”.

05/30/2014 ODNR Announces Beach Safety Classes

In June 2014, Melissa organized and hosted three GLSRP Great Lakes Water Safety classes in Mentor, Saybrook, and Madison, OH.  The classes were funded by the ODNR (Fox 8 Coverage) (19 Action News Coverage).

06/09/2014 Madison Township woman helps to organize water safety classes in memory of son who drowned

06/10/2014 Mother offers Water safety classes after losing teenage son

06/30/2014 Indiana residents inspired by Ohio Mom whose son who drowned in Lake Erie – Sponsor GLSRP Great Lakes Water Safety class in Ogden Dunes, IN.

07/21/2014 Bereft mother to hold blood drive in son’s memory

08/05/2014 Ohio Mom Adopts-a-highway in Memory of Jermaine at the interchange of Route 90 and Route 528

09/04/2014 Ohio mom organizes three more water safety presentations at high school and junior high in honor of her son (Photos)

2014.09.05 High School 0008

09/06/2014 Zirkle co-hosted a Great Lakes Water Safety booth with the GLSRP and family of Great Lakes drowning victims at the inaugural “Because I said I would” conference  in Columbus, Sept. 6

Because I said conference

12/14/2014 Zirkle hosted a second Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting Vigil in Jermaine’s honor.

01/19/2015 Zirkle hosted a blood drive in Honor of Jermaine Zirkle January 19th at Cornerstone Friends Church, 2300 Hubbard Rd, Madison, 1-7 p.m.

02/22/2015 – Star Beacon – Lifesaver of the Year – Zirkle will travel to Dallas to accept national award

01/19/2015 – Star Beacon – Ultimate goal is to get water safety education in all schools

01/19/2015 – Star Beacon – Madison mother a contender for national drowning prevention award

01/15/2014 – News-Herald – Madison Township woman nominated for national Lifesaver of the Year

GLSRP Drowning Statistics
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Follow GLSRP on Twitter @ripcurrentsafeT


The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (389 since 2010)
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes (Over 135 classes since 2011)
  3. Hosts Surf Lifeguard Certification courses (pics), and
  4. Works with family and friends  of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.

Mission: To eradicate drownings by being the leader of Great Lakes water safety by providing training, public preparedness, and public awareness.

Vision: Everyone in the Great Lakes region, nationwide and worldwide, is knowledgeable, engaged and proactive in water safety with an emphasis on the Great Lakes region.

The GLSRP has performed over 60 Great Lakes Water Safety classes in 6 of the 8 Great Lakes states; Presented at the NDPA’s 12th Annual Symposium, March  2013 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2012 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 2012.