Winner of the NDPA's 2012
      "Lifesaver of the Year" Award
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About Us

OVERVIEW

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).

The GLSPR:

  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (723+ drownings since 2010 as of 09/23/2018)
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes and presentations (Over 727 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011 as of 09/23/2018)
  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 be the leader of Great Lakes water safety and reduce the number of Great Lakes drownings through training, public preparedness, and public awareness.

Vision:  Everyone, nationwide and worldwide, is knowledgeable, engaged and proactive in water safety with an emphasis on the Great Lakes region.

GLSRP ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • The GLSRP has performed over 727 Great Lakes Water Safety presentations in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states
  • April 15-19, 2019 – The GLSRP will be attending and presenting at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA at the Astor Crowne Plaza, New Orleans French Quarter, 739 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
  • January 24-26, 2019, Dave Benjamin will be presenting a Great Lakes Water Safety presentation at the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) “2019 Soaring to New Heights” Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago 
  • October 24, 2018 – Dave Benjamin of the GLSRP will present the “I didn’t know…” Public Service Announcement and Great Lakes Drowning Documentary at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Cleveland, OH
  • October 24, 2018 – Bob Pratt of the GLSRP will present “Mythbusters – Water Safety Edition” at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Cleveland, OH. 
  • October 4, 2018 – Speaking at the Joe Moore Water Safety Task Force Meeting, Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Suite 200, Chicago, IL 
  • April 4, 2018 – The GLSRP received the 2018 National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) “Community Lifesaver” Award
  • April 4, 2018 – Dave Benjamin presented, “I didn’t know…” Public Service Announcement and Great Lakes Drowning Documentary at the NDPA Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • April 4, 2018 – Dave Benjamin and Bob Pratt presented, “The Fallacy of Swim At Your Own Risk” and “Flip, Float, and Follow” drowning strategy at the NDPA Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • November 8, 2017 – Dave Benjamin presented “Solving the Great Lakes Drowning Epidemic” at the State of Lake Michigan Conference in Green Bay, WI 
  • November 8, 2017 – Dave Benjamin presented “Compassionately Addressing the Stigma of Drowning” at the State of Lake Michigan Conference in Green Bay, WI 
  • April 21, 2017 – Bob Pratt, presented, “Trends in Lifeguarding – Innovative Ways to Save Lives” at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s Annual Conference in Sheboygan, WI
  • April 20, 2017 – Dave Benjamin, presented, “Compassionately Addressing the Stigma of Drowning” at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s Annual Conference in Sheboygan, WI
  • April 12, 2017 – Dave Benjamin, presented, “Compassionately Addressing the Stigma of Drowning” at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s (NDPA) Annual Conference
  • April 12, 2017 – GLSPR Board Member, John Kocher and his wife Kathy, 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 
  • April 28, 2016 – GLSRP Board Member, John Kocher and his wife Kathy, received the “2016 Supporter of the Year” award presented by the nonprofit, ‘Because I said I would’ for their water safety promise video, “Gentle Giant”, about the loss of their son, Matthew, in a Lake Michigan rip current (Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5SJlCK_a9g)
  • April 22, 2016 – Bob Pratt performed the Keynote Speech and Dave Benjamin presented “The Vicious Cycle of the Drowning Epidemic – The Need for a Water Safety School Curriculum” at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Grand Haven, MI
  • April 22, 2016 – GLSRP Board Member, 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
  • April 19, 2016 – Bob Pratt performed the Keynote Speech and Dave Benjamin presented “The Vicious Cycle of the Drowning Epidemic – The Need for a Water Safety School Curriculum” at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Cleveland, OH
  • April 19, 2016 – GLSRP Board Member, Melissa Zirkle, won the 2016 Superhero of the Year award presented by the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium
  • April 19, 2016 – GLSRP Board Member, Melissa Zirkle, presented about the loss of her son, Jermaine, during the “Story Telling” segment at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium Conference in Cleveland, OH
  • March 31, 2016 – Dave Benjamin presented “The Vicious Cycle of the Drowning Epidemic – The Need for a Water Safety School Curriculum” at the NDPA’s Annual Educational Conference in Mesa, AZ
  • March 29, 2016 – The GLSRP received a 2016 NDPA Community Lifesaver Award
  • March 29, 2016 – John Kocher, GLSRP Board Member, his wife Kathy received a 2016 NDPA Community Lifesaver Award
  • May 6, 2015 – Dave Benjamin and Bob Pratt presented at Great Lakes Beach Hazards and Water Safety Conference in Gaylord, MI
  • April 21, 2015 – Co-Hosted and Presented at the Great Lakes Beach Hazards Water Safety Conference in Michigan City, IN
  • March 12, 2015 – Melissa Zirkle, GLSRP Board Member, won the 2015 NDPA Lifesaver of the Year award Winner
  • March 14, 2013 – Bob Pratt presented at the NDPA’s Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • September 3, 2012 – Winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic
  • March 9, 2012 – Dave Benjamin and Bob Pratt presentedat the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, CA
  • March 8, 2012 – GLSRP Executive Director, Bob Pratt, received the “NDPA Lifesaver of the Year” award

BIOGRAPHIES

Bob Pratt
Executive Director of Education
Bob Pratt retired from the East Lansing, Michigan fire department January 20, 2012 and is leading the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project fulltime.  For half of his 25 year career with the fire department, he was the fire marshal and the other half of his career he was a paramedic and firefighter.  He also served as the lead trainer for the department’s water and ice rescue training.  He has also taught water safety for several police and fire agencies in Michigan including Lansing Community College’s Police Academy.  He has attended the Indiana River Rescue School and zodiac boat rescue training.  Pratt has served on the Health and Safety Committee for the mid-Michigan Red Cross for 20 years. He is currently a Lifeguard, CPR and First Aid Instructor and serves as a subject matter expert for the media regarding drowning and water safety. He has served as a lifeguard and water safety specialist for many aquatic events including several triathlons, open water swims in Lake Michigan, and the National Championship 10K swim in Harbor Springs.  In 2007, Pratt founded the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project in association with the Great Lakes Surfing Association (GLSA) and began training surfers in lifesaving techniques.  The project also researched drowning; specifically rip current drowning on the Great Lakes.  He has attended several rip current conferences including the 1st International Rip Current Symposium in Florida (2010).  Pratt is a member of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and has presented at its national symposiums.  He is also a member of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force and co-founder of the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign.  Mr. Pratt lives in East Lansing Michigan with his wife Cynthia, their two children, Jake and Corrine, and his Jack Russell Terrier “Buzzy”.

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Bob Windsurfing

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Dave Benjamin
Executive Director of Public Relations and Project Management 
Dave’s nonfatal drowning accident (media feature story) was his inspiration to get involved with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He is a project manager, public relations specialist, and technical writer with degrees from Eastern Illinois University in English, Professional Writing, Creative Writing, and Business Administration.  He is also a Great Lakes surfer and a philanthropist interested in making a difference in people’s lives.  In addition to participating in the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, he created the Rich East “Multi-Class Reunion” and “Rockets Reaching Out” fundraiser.  With the mission, “Friends for LIFE!” the “Multi-Class Reunion” was created to reunite graduates and friends of ALL classes through bi-annual reunions.  The “Rockets Reaching Out” fundraiser component of the Multi-Class Reunion was added because alumni are a community that makes a difference with its classmates. The benefits of the fundraisers are awarded to a Rich East alumnus or family member of a Rich East alumnus to help offset medical costs due to illness or injury.  Recipients included a heart transplant fundraiser, esophagus cancer fundraiser, and bacterial meningitis fundraiser.

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