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Surfrider

Steve Haluska head out to surf Lake Michigan near the Portage lakefront.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project plans to debut its first public safety announcement titled "I didn't know ..." at 3 p.m. Wednesday via Facebook Live.

The announcement will include a short feature film where family and friends of drowning victims talk about the day of their loses and their commitment to prevent drownings in the future.

The debut will take place at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel & Marina and be broadcast on Facebook Live at facebook.com/DrownAlliance/.

The public service announcement has a focus on the Great Lakes, but is applicable to all bodies of water. It's being presented by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project in partnership with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium and the Matthew Kocher Foundation.

The annoucement will include comments from National Drowning Prevention Alliance Lifesaver of the Year award winners Bob Pratt, of East Lansing, Michigan; Melissa Zirkle, of Ashtabula, Ohio; and John and Kathy Kocher, of Tinley Park. The film also features NDPA Community Lifesaver Award winner Dave Benjamin, of Homewood, and drowning survivors Evelyn Hernandez, of Chicago, and Jamie Racklyeft, of Ann Arbor.

Pratt and Benjamin co-founded and co-direct the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. Racklyeft is the founder and president of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium.

“'I didn’t know...'is the number one thing that we hear from family and friends of drowning victims after the tragic event,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP Executive Director.

 "We don’t believe that water safety is rocket science," Benjamin said. "It is simple and basic information that is not being efficiently or effectively disseminated to the public. 

"Drowning is a public health issue and should be funded like a public health issue for education, outreach and research," he said.

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