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

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District 218 Water Safety School Presentations

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of Project Management & Public Relations

The Matthew Kocher Foundation to sponsor

25 Great Lakes Water Safety  Presentations in three days

for District 218 high schools and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of the Tinley Park area

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces 25 Great Lakes Water Safety presentations to over 6,000 students sponsored by the Matthew Kocher Foundation.  Matthew drowned in a Lake Michigan rip current in 2013.

0001 Matt's Freshmen Football Pic

Since his passing the Kocher family has partnered with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project to advocate water safety.  The family has established the Matthew Kocher Foundation, a non-profit organization in memory of Matthew to promote water safety, host community service projects, and award scholarships to deserving students.

The presentations will take place:

  1. Monday, April 13 at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  2. Monday, April 13 at the Tinley Park VFW Hall for the Boy and Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
  3. Tuesday, April 14 at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  4. Wednesday, April 15 at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

“We don’t want people to go through the loss that we have gone through,” said John Kocher, Matthew’s father and Richards High School guidance counselor.

“It’s important for water safety to be in schools today.  Drowning is one hundred percent preventable.” (Watch the Kocher’s “Because I said I would” Promise Video.)

“People may be used to swimming in a controlled environment like a pool, but people need to have an understanding and a greater respect for open water environments.  The water is fun, but it can be powerful and hazardous.”

The Kocher family organized and sponsored a Great Lakes Water Safety Presentation last May at Victor Andrew high school in Tinely Park.

On April 21, John Kocher will be speaking at the Great Lakes Water Safety Conference in Michigan City, Indiana.

The call for a Water Safety School Curriculum
The GLSRP is leading the call for a Water Safety School Curriculum to launch in the Great Lakes region and then nationwide.

In schools today there are fire drills, tornado drills, school shooter drills, and even earthquake drills. Unfortunately though, more school aged children will drown each year than die in fires, tornadoes, school shooters, and earthquakes combined.  So why is there little to no water safety education in schools today – Especially since there is a bigger picture to drowning?

The BIG picture of drowning – It’s an epidemic
While there have been 384 drownings in the Great Lakes since 2010, there is a bigger picture to the drowning epidemic that lost Americans do not know about.

It is estimated that 10 people drown each day in the United State, and in the world a person drowns every 90 seconds.

A new WHO report says that drowning continues to be a “neglected public health issue” that’s still happening with alarming frequency around the world.

When the CDC Statistics breaks down the drowning age groups, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4; the second leading cause of death for children 1 to 14 (second only to car accidents); and the fifth leading cause of death for the nation as a whole.

GLSRP Drowning Statistics
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The Matthew Kocher Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, advocacy for water safety education, and hosts community service projects carrying on Matthew’s spirt of service to others.

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.


SAFETY TIPS – What everyone should know before they put their toes on the beach: