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Expo promotes beach safety

Matt DeYoung • Apr 23, 2016 at 7:00 AM

A large crowd turned out for Friday’s Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium at the Grand Haven Community Center.

One of the speakers was Vicki Cech of Grand Haven. Her son, Andy Fox, drowned in Lake Michigan in September 2003 when he got caught in a rip current. 

Since that time, Cech has spent countless hours promoting water safety, both in Grand Haven and across the country. A few years ago, she appeared on the “Steve Harvey Show,” where she received a jacket that dubbed her a “Harvey’s Hero.”

“I’m not a hero,” Cech said Friday afternoon, her voice on the verge of breaking. “I’m a mom who hurts, and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. It’s a terrible thing to have to go through. We can try to save other people from it.”

The event was geared toward water safety advocates and professionals. Attendees included representatives from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as well as officials from various municipalities.

Topics covered included:

• In-depth understanding of wave science and dangerous currents research.

• Best practices in how to avoid, escape and safely save others from dangerous currents.

• Be more comfortable and confident speaking to media and others about water safety.

• Putting your new knowledge to use in fun, interactive idea formation sessions.

Cech spoke at length about local efforts to promote water safety, including a sign placed at the entrance to Grand Haven’s south pier bearing her son’s photo and warning people of the dangers Lake Michigan can present. She also talked about the Beach Survival Challenge, which started a decade ago with 11 teams. This year’s event, scheduled for June 18, will feature more than 80 teams and 180 volunteers. 

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