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

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John & Kathy Kocher Advocating Water Safety

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2015 NDPA “Lifesaver of the Year” Award Nominees, John & Kathy Kocher

John and Kathy Kocher, have been nominated for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s (NDPA) 2015 “Lifesaver of the Year” award. They are 1 of 10 finalists in this nationwide search.

Please vote by visiting the NDPA Facebook voting page (, read the nomination essays of the 10 finalists, and cast a vote. People can vote once per 24-hour period till January 16. The nominee with the most Facebook votes wins! (NOTE: there is a tiny circle on the left margin of the essays to click to cast your vote).

On July 27, 2013, John and Kathy lost their 15 year old son, Matthew, to a Lake Michigan rip current.

In September 2014, John & Kathy attended the “Because I said I would” conference in Columbus, OH to advocate water safety and recorded this Promise Video ( recalling the day Matt perished and their future commitment to honor his memory through a foundation.

Gentle Giant

Since losing him, they have made a commitment to help others and have not stopped.  They created the Matthew Kocher Foundation ( and work endlessly and unselfishly to help educate and promote water safety in the community to reduce and prevent loss of life.


Since Matt’s passing, through the Matthew Kocher Foundation, John and Kathy have:

  • Sponsored 50 Great Lakes Water Safety School Presentations to over 11,693 students
  • Awarded over $10,000 in Scholarships to benefit students who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, in athletics, outstanding character, and leadership in the community.
  • Hosted Community Service Projects for over 600 participants (The Matt Kocher Games, Adopt-A-Road, Tinley Park Irish Parade, a Food Drive, and a Trim-A-Tree program)
  • Hosted its First Annual Matthew Kocher Memorial Golf Classic and Dinner

Since John & Kathy lost Matthew they have spoken to the media advocating water safety on at least 23 occasions, which are listed below.

John & Kathy Kocher in the News

  1. 01/06/2015 – Tinley Park Patch – Tinley Park Couple Nominated for Lifesaver of the Year – For advocating water safety through Matthew Kocher Foundation, John and Kathy Kocher among those in running for national recognition.
  2. 12/19/2015– PR – Tinley Park Couple Nominated for Lifesaver of the Year for advocating water safety through Matthew Kocher Foundation
  1. 08/06/2015– Tinley Park Patch – Golf Outing, Dinner to Honor Memory of Drowning Victim from Tinley Park.  Matthew Kocher died in July 2013. His parents have become advocates of water safety. The Aug. 7 event will raise funds in his honor.
  1. 08/06/2015– PR – In memory of Lake Michigan drowning victim – Golf outing and dinner – Raising money for water safety, scholarship, and community service – 412 Great Lakes drownings since 2010
  1. 05/12/2015– PR – Day 2 of Six States in Six Days for a Water Safety School Curriculum will take place at Reavis High School in Burbank, IL
  1. 05/08/2015– PR – Six States in Six Days for 18 Great Lakes Water Safety Presentations to support a Water Safety School Curriculum

2015 Great Lakes Water Safety Conference

  1. 04/22/2015– NWI Times – Survivors, victims’ families fight for increased Lake Michigan water safety – “He still was no match for the power of a rip current,” John Kocher said of his son, Matt, who stood 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighed 233 pounds.

Water Safety Conference

Associated Press expands coverage

  1. 04/22/2015– Elkhart Truth – Group started by drowning survivor wants safer Lake Michigan – Drowning survivors, victims’ families want more education on staying safe in Lake Michigan
  2. 04/22/2015– Fox 28 – Group co-founded by drowning survivor wants safer Lake Michigan – Drowning survivors and victims’ families are pushing for increased education on how to stay safe in Lake Michigan waters.
  3. 04/23/2015– The Republic – Drowning survivors, victims’ families want more education on staying safe in Lake Michigan
  1. 04/22/2015– Post-Tribune, Chicago Tribune, and Southtown Star – Conference brings attention to water safety on the Great Lakes – Water safety education on Lake Michigan stressed
  1. 04/13/2015– Daily Southtown Newspaper – Safe swimming the goal of drowning victim’s family – Water safety presentation hits home at Richards High School


  1. 04/10/2015– PR – 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
  1. 02/02/2015– Chicago Tribune – Matt Kocher Games – Special Olympians get water safety tips at Richards (Photo & Brief)
  1. 11/25/2014– Chicago Tribune – Family of drowned teen touched by community support


  1. 06/26/2014– PR – Indiana residents inspired by Mom of son who drowned in Lake Erie; Ogden Dunes water safety class scheduled for June 30

Shedd John

  1. 06/06/2014– Shedd Aquarium Press Conference – Great Lakes Beach Safety Awareness

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  1. 05/27/2014– Media Advisory –Great Lakes Water Safety Advocates Working in Concert to Save Lives – Several water safety events planned for Chicagoland area in first week of June
  1. 05/08/2014– WBBM News Radio 780 AM – Drowning Victim’s Parents Help Teach about Dangers of Rip Currents
  1. 05/08/2014 – Tinley Park Patch In Memory of Matt: Water Safety Education an ‘Energizer’ for Couple Who Lost Son

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  1. 05/07/2014– ABC 7 – Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project educates students for safer swimming

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  1. 05/07/2014– Southtown Star – In Matt’s memory, and to help others avoid similar tragedies, the Kochers teamed up with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project to bring water safety education to students at Andrew High School in Tinley Park Wednesday. #glsrp #MK56
  1. 05/06/2014– Tribune Local – Andrew H.S. hosts water safety lesson in memory of drowned student
  1. 05/03/2014– Press Release – Great Lakes Water Safety Presentation Wednesday, May 7, at Victor J. Andrew High School, Tinley Park, IL.