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

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Ohio Mom to speak about son’s drowning Tuesday

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director

Jermaine & Melissa

Ohio Mom to speak about son’s drowning Tuesday

at Water Safety Conference

She’s also nominated for a Superhero of the Year Award 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) is proud to announce that its board member, Melissa Zirkle, will be making her first speaking engagement at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s Conference, Tuesday, April 19, at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, 28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village, OH.

Zirkle lost her son, Jermaine, 13, in a 2013 Lake Erie drowning accident.  Zirkle will recall the events of that unfortunate day – a story that every parent should hear.

“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 sharing what happened to him.”

In addition to speaking, Zirkle has also been nominated for a “Superhero of the Year” award.

“The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s “Superhero Award” recognizes people saving others or helping prevent drowning in the big lakes, whether it’s their job or not.” said Jamie Racklyeft executive director of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium. “So many people are doing amazing work to keep people safer in the Great Lakes; we want to begin recognizing them with this award.”

Nominees include: Melissa Zirkle; John & Kathy Kocher, founders of the Matthew Kocher Foundation; Brandon Romero, Mason County Sheriff who saved a father and son; Ryan Schiller, deputy sheriff who saved a man from the Pentwater River; Diane Kooi, who rescued a drowning girl in Lake Michigan; and Zebulon Boeskool, a surfer who saved a 13-year-old girl in Grand Haven; Dave Benjamin, of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project; Tom Belt, retired fire chief from Marquette, MI.

March 2015, Zirkle won the NDPA’s Lifesaver of the Year Award.  “This is for Jermaine,” Zirkle said. “This is a token of my promise to him that his accidental drowning wouldn’t be in vain. This is just a portion of what I plan to do to honor my son. His accident, as tragic as it’s been for me and all who love him, will save many lives.”

“Melissa has done so much for water safety,” said Bob Pratt executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.  She is making a HUGE impact in the Great Lakes.”

Here is a list of Melissa Zirkle’s Accomplishments since the passing of her son, Jermaine:

Melissa Zirkel, Mother of drowning victim, Jermaine
The 2015 NDPA Lifesaver of the Year
A 2016 Superhero of the Year nominee

Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s Conference

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center
28728 Wolf Road
Bay Village, OH 44140

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Because there have been 446 drowning statistics in the Great Lakes since 2010.


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 (446 drownings since 2010)
  2. Performs “Great Lakes Water Safety” presentations and trainings (Over 200 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011)
  3. Hosts Open Water Surf Lifeguard Certification training, 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.


  1. WGN Chicago’s Very Own segment, “Man makes water safety education his life’s passion”
  2. Dave Benjamin’s drowning accident and ‘Because I said I would’ water safety promise video

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