Who Are We?

On July 27, 2013, 15-year-old Matthew Kocher was away at camp, earning community service hours for high school. While standing in shallow water in Lake Michigan, Matt was caught in a rip current. He was suddenly pulled away from shore; tragically, he drowned.

Matthew was an amazing young man who many loved and respected. He was an honor student and three-sport athlete playing football, basketball and volleyball at Andrew High School in Tinley Park, IL. Matthew was gentle and kind, cared deeply for others, and was very involved in community service. Matthew had a perpetual smile and warm, inviting eyes that made everyone feel at ease.

Matt’s tragic drowning was completely preventable. If Matt had received water safety education, he would have had the knowledge necessary to keep him safe.

The impetus to establish the Matthew Kocher Foundation originated in the hearts of Matt’s parents, John and Kathy Kocher. The Foundation’s mission is to carry on Matt’s spirit of caring for others by offering water safety education to prevent future drownings and save lives. Matt’s parents do not want any other families to experience the anguish of going through such a preventable tragedy. The Foundation also provides scholarship awards to deserving students and provides community service opportunities to young people.

The Foundation has already accomplished much. By the end of the 2016/2017 school year, over 32,000 high school students at six area high schools had attended water safety presentations. The Foundation provided additional presentations to community youth groups. The presentations were funded by the Foundation at no cost to the schools or organizations. In addition, over $63,000 in scholarship awards have been given to deserving students since the Foundation was established. The generosity and support offered by so many in memory of Matt have made it possible for the Foundation to undertake its mission in such a strong manner from the outset. Community service participation has also been realized due to the tremendous response from numerous volunteers who have participated in our community service projects.

The Foundation’s motto is “Working Together to Help Others.” The work the Foundation has performed so far is only the first step in meeting our vision of water safety becoming a part of every school’s wellness curriculum, thus honoring Matt’s caring nature.

Thank you for visiting. We encourage you to explore the other pages on our website for more information.

The Matthew Kocher Foundation is an approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization classified as educational and charitable.