National Drowning Prevention Alliance
     “Lifesaver of the Year” Award 2012 & 2020
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Melissa Zirkle Lifesaver of the Year Nomination

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

Ohio mom nominated for National Lifesaver of the Year Award

For turning tragedy into a passion to help others 

Jermaine & Melissa

MADISON, OHIO – Melissa Zirkle has been nominated for 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.”

To vote for Zirkle for the Lifesaver of the Year Award, go to the NDPA Facebook Page’s “Poll” tab.  People can vote once every 24 hours through January 31.  The submission with the most votes will be pronounced the winner and awarded the 2014 Lifesaver of the Year Award at the National Drowning Prevention Educational Conference March 11-13 in Dallas, TX.

Zirkle will also be hosting a blood drive in honor of her son January 19th at Cornerstone Friends Church, 2300 Hubbard Rd, Madison, 1-7 p.m.

“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.”


12/08/2013 – 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”.

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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

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

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

Promise - Melissa

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

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

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

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

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

2015.01.19 Blood Drive