National Drowning Prevention Alliance
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Water Safety Holiday Weekend; 375 Drownings

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553  

Exercise hyper-vigilant water safety this holiday weekend

375 Great Lakes Drownings since 2010

Tinley Park residents advocating water safety 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) is encouraging all Labor Day Weekend beach goers, boaters, and water enthusiasts to have a happy and safe holiday by exercising hyper-vigilant water safety awareness this Labor Day Weekend so there is no repeat of 2012’s 8 Labor Day Weekend drownings.

“Labor Day Weekend is upon us and it represents the ‘unofficial’ end of the summer.  While it may seem like the best time for that last hurrah at the beach or on the boat, especially after this mild summer, it’s an opportune time to exercise water safety,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

To date in 2014, the GLSRP is tracking 45 Great Lakes drownings.  Overall since 2010, 375 people have drowned in the Great Lakes (full Statistics).

Tinley Park residents, John and Kathy Kocher, lost their son Matthew, 15, July 27, 2013.  Since his death, the Kocher’s have organized nine GLSRP Great Lakes Water Safety presentations for 2,300 students to encourage them to stay safe while swimming in Lake Michigan. It’s a cause that has given them some relief and a sense of purpose.

“It really gives us energy and it gives us a drive to do something, to do good,” said John Kocher. “It’s something that helps ease the pain.”

The Kocher’s have also joined the Adopt-a-Road program and created a scholarship in his name.

The Kocher’s will be joining the GLSRP September 6 in Columbus, Ohio at the “Because I said I would” conference to create awareness about Great Lakes drownings, water safety, and help launch a fundraiser to complete the GLSRP’s “Water Safety School Curriculum”.

The big picture of drowning:
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury related death in children 1-4, second in children 1-14 (second only to car accidents), fifth nationwide, and third worldwide.

In schools today they have fire drills, tornado drills, active shooter drills, some even have earthquake drills, but very little have any water safety education.

Unfortunately drowning will likely kill more school aged children each year than fires, tornadoes, school shooters, and earthquakes combined.

So why is there little water safety education?”


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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
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes
  3. Is the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip Current Awareness Campaign
  4. Hosts Surf Lifeguard Certification courses, and
  5. 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.

The GLSRP presented at the NDPA’s 12th Annual Symposium, March 14, 2013, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  It presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2011 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.