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

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Drowning TV Talk Show Panel Ready to Go

Dave Benjamin

TV talk show panelist ready to go for a water safety episode! 

To Combat the Great Lakes Drowning Epidemic 

328 Drownings since 2010

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes region is facing a drowning epidemic.  And even though a few key people and nonprofit organizations have dedicated their lives and personal money to raise water safety awareness, a lot of their efforts may be falling on deaf ears and not reaching their target audiences.

A TV talk show episode on the subject of Great Lakes drownings could generate great momentum to save lives not only in the Great Lakes region but drowning on a national level.  (CDC Stats: Drowning overall is the leading cause of death for children 1-4; second leading cause of death for children 1-14 (second to car accidents); the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.; and the third leading cause of death worldwide.)

Unfortunately the burden of water safety often falls on the shoulders of grieving families and friends who have lost a loved one in a drowning accident.  The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) has assembled a panel of family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to discuss:

  1. The impacts of their personal losses
  2. The beach conditions the day of the accidents
  3. Their prior knowledge of beach hazards
  4. Their knowledge of beach hazards after the accidents
  5. The show will also feature GLSRP executive directors to discuss their accomplishments and the work that still needs to be done despite funding constraints; e.g. a nationwide water safety school curriculum.
  6. Any additional topics the Talk Show would like to introduce. 


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1.  In 2003 Vicki Cech lost her son, Andy Fox, 16, in Lake Michigan in Grand Haven, MI.

–Cech was recently featured on the Steve Harvey Show for her water safety accomplishments in Grand Haven, MI. Cech

–Cech received a NDPA National Community Lifesaver of the Year award.  Associated Press Coverage.

2.  In 2013 Kathy & John Kocher lost their son, Matthew Kocher, 15, in Lake Michigan at New Buffalo, MI.  Kathy & John are hosting water safety presentations May 7 at Matthew’s high school, Victor Andrew High School, in Tinley Park, IL.

3.  In 2013 Melissa Zirkle lost her son, Jermaine Marcus Zirkle, 13, in Lake Erie at Saybrook Township Park, Ashtabula, OH.  Melissa is hosting three water safety classes June 12, 13, & 14 and may possibly host three more on Lake Erie’s shores this summer.

4.  In 2012 Evelyn Hernandez survived a drowning accident in which she also lost her boyfriend, Leonel Dominguez, 31, in Lake Michigan at Beverly Shores, IN.  (Evelyn TV Interviews 08/30/2013, 06/01/2013)

5.  In 2012 Christine Forystek lost her son, Cory McFry, 15, in Lake Michigan at Portage, IN.  Christine hosted a water safety class in New Buffalo, August 8, 2012 (Pictures)

6.  In 2012 Jamie Racklyeft survived a drowning accident in Leland, MI August 30, 2012.  Shortly after he was rescued, Brian Rolston, 16, drowned in a rip current at the same beach.  (Jamie TV Interviews 08/01/2013)

7.  Dave Benjamin, 12/26/2010 drowning accident, GLSRP Executive Director.

8.  Bob Pratt, water safety expert, GLSRP Executive Director.  (Bob TV Interviews 02/08/2012, 08/05/2012)


  1. Nancy Verhey lost her brother in-law, Karl Schmidt, 61, in Lake Michigan at Sheboygan, WI.  The drowning accident happened during a family reunion at the beach.  Approximately 30 family members witnessed the rescue and resuscitation efforts on the beach.
  2. Additional family and friends of above panelist;
  3. Family and friends of other Great Lakes drowning victims;
  4. Additional Great Lakes drowning survivors.

In addition to this Talk Show Opportunity, the GLSRP is planning a huge Great Lakes water safety campaign:

Wed., May 7, Water Safety Presentation, Tinley Park, IL – Victor Andrew High School – (7) 35 Minute Presentations

Fri. May 23, A GLSRP Press Conference Memorial Day Weekend on the Shedd Aquarium Terrace (members of the Chicago Park District, politicians, water safety activists, and friends and family of drowning victims may attend)

Sat. May 31, Water Safety Class, Port Washington, WI
Sun. June 1, Water Safety Class, Waukegan, IL

To be scheduled between June 2 and June 5
(Date Pending & Permit Pending) Class for Chicago Junior Lifeguards
(Date Pending) a Meteorologist Water Safety Messaging Conference at the Shedd
(Date Pending) Water Safety Class, YMCA, Schaumburg, IL
(Date Pending) Water Safety Presentation at Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Fri., June 6, Private Water Safety Class, Frankfort, IL
Sat., June 7, Water Safety Class, Montrose Beach, Chicago, IL (Permit Pending)
Sun., June 8, Water Safety Class, Rainbow Beach, Chicago, IL (Permit Pending)
Mon., June 9, Water Safety Class, Traverse City, MI
Tues., June 10, Water Safety Class, Leland, MI

Thurs., June 12, Water Safety Class, Mentor, OH (Permit Pending)
Fri., June 13, Water Safety Class, Saybrook, OH
Sat., June 14, Water Safety Class, Madison, OH
Mon., June 16, Lifeguard Training, New Buffalo, MI (to be confirmed)
Tues., June 17, Lifeguard Training, Pentwater, MI (to be confirmed)

July 6 Lakeside, MI

Muskegon (Setting date soon)
3 classes in Traverse City, via Traverse County Health Department Grant
4 classes on Michigan coast, via the Michigan Sea Grant’s Grant application

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is a nonprofit organization that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).  Its mission is to eradicate drownings by being the leader of Great Lakes water safety by providing training, public preparedness, and public awareness. Its vision is that 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.


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes
  3. Is a rip Current Awareness Campaign
  4. Hosts Surf Lifeguard Certification courses, and
  5. Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to promote water safety.