FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director
National Lifesaver Award Winners Continue Efforts
with Chicagoland Water Safety School Presentations this week
As Great Lakes drownings continue to rise in 2017
GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces that the National Drowning Prevention Alliance “Lifesaver of the Year” award winners, John and Kathy Kocher, will be hosting 32 Lake Michigan Water Safety school presentations this week.
The presentations will commence Monday, May 8, 8:00 a.m. at Richards High School, 10601 S. Central Avenue, Oak Lawn (additional classes listed below). These presentations come as the beaches begin to prepare for summer visitors and Great Lakes drownings continue to rise.
“Education is the key,” said John Kocher. “People are amazed when you explain to them about the dangers of water. They, like myself, had no idea.”
“As a society, we should all know the basics of water safety because drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in children,” said Kathy Kocher. “We need to educate children, parents, and everyone about water safety and drowning prevention.
“Water safety education is very straightforward. It should be part of every school’s curriculum, just like fire safety. No one wants to think this could happen, but it does. We cannot bring our son Matthew back, but we are committed to teaching others about water safety so that no one else has to experience the devastating loss we have,” Kathy concluded.
“John and Kathy have been a true inspiration in the face of tragedy of losing Matthew,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP Executive Director. “They have been unstoppable in their efforts to educate others to prevent drownings.”
NDPA Lifesaver of the Year Award
John and Kathy Kocher of Tinley Park, IL received the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Lifesaver of the Year Award for their water safety advocacy after losing their only child, Matthew, in a 2013 Lake Michigan rip current. The Kocher’s accepted the award April 12 at the NDPA conference in Pittsburgh, PA. (Amateur video of the Award Ceremony and Award Acceptance speech.)
Great Lakes Drownings on the rise
The GLSRP is currently tracking 14 Great Lakes drownings in 2017. In 2016 the GLSRP tracked 99 Great Lakes drownings; 46 of those were in Lake Michigan plus 6 more Lake Michigan drowning accidents that were last listed in critical condition; up 84% over 2015’s 25 Lake Michigan drownings. Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked over 551 Great Lakes drownings (Full statistics here).
“Unfortunately we know that the big picture of drowning continues to be a neglected public health issue [2015 WHO report] and we know that it needs to be part of the school curriculum and addressed year round,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP executive director.
“Water safety and drowning survival is not common sense. It’s a silent epidemic that gets very little proactive funding or attention. We believe that water safety and drowning survival is not rocket science,” Benjamin added. “It is simple bullet pointed information that is not being efficiently or effectively delivered.”
LAKE MICHIGAN WATER SAFETY PRESENTATION
The Matthew Kocher Foundation and
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Lake Michigan Water Safety Presentations
WHERE and WHEN:
May 8 – Richards High School, 10601 S. Central Avenue, Oak Lawn, IL 60453
May 9 – Prairie View Middle School, 8500 175th St, Tinley Park, IL 60487
May 10 – Marist High School, 4200 W 115th St, Chicago, IL 60655
May 11 – Shepard High School, 13049 Ridgeland Ave, Palos Heights, IL 60463
May 12 – Eisenhower High School, 12700 Sacramento Watt Ave, Blue Island, IL 60406
Because drowning continues to be a neglected public health issue, so stay safe and have fun at the beach this summer!
ABOUT THE KOCHER’S
On July 27, 2013, John and Kathleen Gahan Kocher lost their 15 year old son, Matthew, to a Lake Michigan rip current in New Buffalo, MI.
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, “Gentle Giant” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5SJlCK_a9g) recalling the day Matt perished and their future commitment to honor his memory through a foundation.
Since losing Matthew they have made a commitment to help others and have not stopped.
They created the Matthew Kocher Foundation (www.mk56.org) 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 170+ Great Lakes Water Safety School Presentations to over 28,000 students in Illinois
- Awarded over $50,000+ 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
On April 12, 2017 – John and Kathy Kocher received the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s “Lifesaver of the Year Award” for their water safety advocacy after losing their son, Matthew, 15, in a Lake Michigan rip current
On December 17, 2016, John and Kathy received the Daughters of the American Revolution “Excellence in Community Service” award.
On March 30, 2016, John and Kathy Kocher received the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s “2016 NDPA Community Lifesaver” award for their water safety advocacy.
On April 28, 2016, John and Kathy Kocher, received the “2016 Supporter of the Year” award presented by the nonprofit, ‘Because I said I would’ for their video, “Gentle Giant”.
On April 22, 2016, John Kocher presented about the loss of his son, Matthew, during the “Story Telling” segment at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Grand Haven, MI
On April 21, 2015 John Kocher presented about the loss of his son, Matthew, during the “Story Telling” segment at the Great Lakes Water Safety Conference in Michigan City, IN
John and Kathy have gone above and beyond to turn their tragedy into lifesaving advocacy for drowning, a “neglected public health issue”, (In 2015 the World Health Organization reported that “Drowning continues to be a neglected public health issue that continues to happen with a high frequency around the world.”)
In addition, since John & Kathy committed to advocate water safety, they have spoken to the media on at least 23 occasions to exponentially expand the water safety message.
ABOUT THE GLSRP
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).
- Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (551+ drownings since 2010)
- Performs “Great Lakes Water Safety” presentations and trainings (Over 372 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011)
- Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.
- Hosts Open Water Surf Lifeguard Training and First Responder In-service Training
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.
- WGN Chicago’s Very Own segment, “Man makes water safety education his life’s passion”
- Dave Benjamin’s drowning accident and ‘Because I said I would’ water safety promise video
- John & Kathy Kocher’s “Gentle Giant” ‘Because I said I would promise video.
Like GLSRP’s Facebook Page
Follow GLSRP on Twitter @ripcurrentsafeT