Ambassadors

Erik Estrada

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Erik Estrada is most widely known for starring as the highway patrol officer, Frank “Ponch” Poncherello in the television series CHiPs; a role in which Estrada stole the hearts of millions of fans, and thus becoming a household name. Despite the career path of his character, Ponch, Estrada’s respect and support for law enforcement did not begin with this iconic role. Before discovering his love for acting, Estrada wished to pursue a career as a police officer with the NYPD; a career path in which he ultimately did not follow, but also a dream in which he did not abandon.

Despite his numerous television & motion picture appearances throughout his acting career, Estrada has made it clear that the role he enjoys most in life is that of a role model to children throughout the world. Estrada is devoted to his mission of promoting child safety; a mission which can take many forms, including the safety of children with special needs. As an ambassador for Project Lifesaver, he has helped and continues to help many children on the autism spectrum by spreading the word about this lifesaving program, in addition to helping other individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and related cognitive conditions.

For more information about Erik Estrada, including his career and devotion to child safety, please visit www.erikestrada.com.

Jack Jacobs

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After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University in the late 1960s, Jack Jacobs enlisted in the United States Army. Jacobs’ active-duty military career lasted approximately 20 years, in which time he served 2 combat tours to Vietnam as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, and earned 3 Bronze Stars, 2 Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration. Jacobs is now named one of the most highly decorated veterans from that era.

Since retiring from the United States Army, Jack Jacobs has pursued a number of finance related career paths; authored an award-winning memoir; and continues as an on-air military and political analyst for NBC News. Jacobs currently holds the McDermott Chair of Humanities and Public Affairs at the United States Military Academy (West Point), and serves on the board of directors for numerous charitable organizations.

Upon connecting with Project Lifesaver, it was clear that Jack Jacobs’ community driven dedication would align perfectly with the goals of the organization, and so he was inducted as an ambassador.

“Project Lifesaver is doing some of the most important work in our communities every single day. They are trained officers and they are prepared to act, with no notice, to preserve the safety of our neighbors and loved ones,” Jacobs stated. “Not only does Project Lifesaver train public safety agencies and offer a community oriented program, but they help save lives, and it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Haley Moss

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Haley Moss was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of three, and despite her disability, she has accomplished many outstanding successes. Moss is an author and an artist, and through her creativity, she has used those outlets to become a philanthropist and an autism advocate. She strives not only to overcome her diagnosis, but also to help others on the spectrum overcome their diagnosis as well.

Overcoming her diagnosis to achieve these successes is not her tremendous accomplishment, however, but rather the way in which she was able to accomplish them at such a young age. Her first book was published when she was only 15 years old, with another following just a few years later; both focusing on the struggles that being autistic caused and how to overcome them. Moss has since graduated from the University of Florida, and is currently attending the University of Miami School of Law. She continues to author articles for numerous publications, serves on the Board of Directors for a number of foundations and organizations, and continues on philanthropic ventures through her art.

Moss’ advocacy for those on the autism spectrum is unlike any other, and as she continues to spread awareness of autism, she will continue to share important resources for those on the spectrum. Her dedication to awareness is incredible, and we are honored to have her as a Project Lifesaver Ambassador.

Candi Spitz

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Candi Spitz is the proud mother of identical/mirror-image twin boys, Brendan and Jaden who were diagnosed with autism at the age of 17 months.

Candi, a former TV and Radio Personality as well as International Key Note Speaker, moved into the realm of non-profits following their diagnosis.  She joined 211 HelpLine Palm Beach/Treasure Coast in July 2016 as their Special Events Manager and Pediatric Outreach Coordinator for the Help Me Grow program.  Prior to making the move to 211, she spent the past eight years in the Nonprofit sector as a National Spokesperson for Autism Speaks, Development Manager for American Cancer Society and Alzheimer’s Association, Ambassador to Project Lifesaver International, Special Needs Advocate for the Palm Beach County Court System, Autism Trainer for Law Enforcement and Rescue Workers in Palm Beach County and served on the WPTV Impact 5 Autism Advisory Board.  She has recently joined the Board for “Love Serving Autism” (a tennis program for children on the Autism Spectrum).

Among the many roles she plays within the autism community, her favorite and most important role is that of a mother. All the work that she has done within the autism community was in the name of her two boys, and in hope to raise awareness for the disability they share with so many others. Her dedication to help others within the autism community is undeniable. Since becoming a Project Lifesaver Ambassador, Candi Spitz helped us establish an autism fund to provide transmitters to families in need of assistance.

Scott Heckert

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While also attending Miami University in Ohio pursuing a degree in engineering, Scott Heckert is following a his lifelong love of racing while pursuing a full-time driving career in the top ranks of racing. In his (so far) short racing career, Heckert has earned the titles of 2-Time PWC GTS winner and 4-Time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner; as well as being awarded the Bright House Challenge Rookie of the Year Award in 2012 and the NASCAR Regional Driver Achievement Award in 2014. These are just a number of his career highlights thus far!

Racing, however, is not his only passion. Heckert has demonstrated a relentless dedication to help raise awareness of Project Lifesaver and the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. His dedication stems from personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease and the challenges involved with caring for a loved one suffering from the disease. Heckert’s aunt has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and has begun to show wandering tendencies; she has been enrolled in the Project Lifesaver Program.

His dedication and personal involvement with and to Project Lifesaver is the reason Scott Heckert was inducted as an Ambassador, and his mission to spread awareness has not faltered in his path to racing success!

For more information about Scott Heckert, please visit www.scottheckert.com.

Ron Yeaw

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Captain Ron Yeaw began his career with the U.S Military in July 1965 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His decorated career lasted nearly 30 years, in which time he served 3 combat tours to the Republic of Vietnam and conducted 5 operational years with UDT 21 and SEAL Team TWO. Captain Yeaw’s service in the U.S. Navy was specialized in the act of counterterrorism and special warfare; it was his extensive knowledge and experience that allowed him to rise in rank and position. Yeaw is a former Commanding Officer for the Underwater Demolition Team 21, and from 1990 until 1992 he served as the Commander of SEAL Team SIX; perhaps one of his greatest accomplishment during his nearly 30 year military career.

Captain Yeaw retired in August 1994. During his career, he was recognized with 45 medals and ribbons, including the Purple Heart and 9 medals of valor. His decorated career will forever stand the test of time, as his service as a Navy UDT- SEAL Frogman will live on in the history of the world’s most prestigious maritime military division.

In the decades since retiring from the United Stated Military, Captain Yeaw has worked in a number of leadership and management roles in both the business and security industries. Captain Yeaw’s ventures after retirement would also lead him to relocate to Port Saint Lucie, Florida; wherein just a few years’ time would also become the new home of Project Lifesaver’s Headquarters.

Upon learning about Project Lifesaver and the mission of the program, Captain Yeaw, without being asked to do so, became an integral part in new relationships between the organization and those who could literally change the future of our program.

A neighbor… A friend… An ambassador!

Mara Botonis

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After thirty years in healthcare, working throughout the United States in the senior housing industry, Mara’s life and career trajectory was forever changed when a close family member was stricken with Alzheimer’s. When the Grandfather that served as her primary paternal influence for over 40 years began losing access to the memories that made up his life story, she knew she had to do something to help. She had spent time in hundreds of communities with thousands of families while working in over thirty states during her three decade career in healthcare. Her everyday work at the national level alongside families coping with the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as countless medical and healthcare professionals specializing in these diseases, offered unparalleled opportunities to learn from their collective expertise.

Mara called in all of her favors and spent five years researching and working on her-at-a-glance care guide; “When Caring Takes Courage”. Her self-published book was produced with her husband’s support using their life savings and contains over 1,000 quick tips for family caregivers, compiled in a way that is practical and user friendly.

Mara currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where she cares for her husband.

Volunteer roles have included:

Alzheimer’s Association-Chapter Board Member
National Dementia Action Alliance-Access and Utilization Co-Chair
Project Lifesaver-Law Enforcement/First Responder-Alzheimer’s Educator
US Against Alzheimer’s-National Support Group Co-Moderator
Caregivers.com-Web Content Curator

Contributing writer for:

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Care Quarterly
www.about.com
www.alz.live
www.alzheimers.net
www.alzheimersreadingroom.com
www.aplaceformom.com
www.commonsensecaregiving.com
www.huffingtonpost.com
www.senioradvisor.com
www.seniorcare.com
www.mariashriver.com

Recognized As:

Best –Selling Author, “When Caring Takes Courage”
A Maria Shriver Architect of Change
2016 Panelist for the Congressionally Directed Peer Reviewed Alzheimer’s Research Program
2015 Recipient of the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service
2015 National Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal Honoree-Outstanding Public Service
2015 Comcast Newsmaker-Alzheimer’s Advocacy
2015 Treasure Coast Healthcare Champion Finalist

Max Gail

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Max Gail, after spending the majority of his formative years trying to “make sense” of the world around him, began acting at the age of 27 in a number of small supporting roles in television shows and movies. He explains that he had never really thought about being a celebrity, but that notion flew out the door after gaining notoriety while portraying what is likely known to be his most notorious role: Detective “Wojo” Wojciehowicz on ABC’s hit sitcom, Barney Miller. Many believe that, unlike most other cop shows of its time, the hit-running show portrayed a more factual representation of community policing with just enough wit and comedic relief. Max portrayed the fun-loving “Wojo” for 8 seasons until the show went off the air in 1982.

Unsurprisingly, given the generation in which he was raised, he has always had a passion for and interest in environmental and social activism, for which he believes influenced much of his on-screen and on-stage work. Within a few short years after the conclusion of Barney Miller, Max decided to step back from his acting career to care for his young daughter after his wife lost her battle with cancer. After later remarrying and beginning to grow his family with more children, he decided it was time to return more prominently to his acting career. That decision was short-lived though, as he quickly noticed a shift that occurred in the industry during his absence, and decided that that was no longer his path. Again, deciding to take a step back from acting, and instead exploring his interest in activism; returning to his roots which were heavily influenced by world activist movements.

During this time, he founded LAP – Local Access Places (www.lap.org). The acronym itself took on many different meanings and metaphors, but the philosophy of the organization, stewed deep in the heart of his passion for social activism, was that being one as a community and society is stronger than the concept of individualism. The goal of the organization was to promote dialogue, through collaboration and integration, that brings people together because while each individual/group/culture is their own, they are more the same than one may think. Max still profoundly believes in this philosophy, and actively tries to spread this belief throughout communities, only now, instead of speaking on the topic during seminars, he has returned to acting, taking on roles that help create a dialogue for a number of issues.

Most recently, Max has taken on the award-winning role of Mike Corbin, the father of the long-term protagonist, Sonny Corinthos on ABC’s General Hospital. For more than 55 years, the soap opera has been taking its viewers on a rollercoaster of stories and plot twists, some a bit more suited for the drama while others depict real-life social problems and solutions, as is the case with Gail’s depiction of an individual succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. With the significant and growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, this storyline and the portrayal of these characters have resonated with so many people who are also going through the same or at least similar struggles each day.

“Activism has always been heavily prominent throughout my life – something I have always been truly passionate about, and I am proud to be able to continue on this journey as a Project Lifesaver Ambassador, to open communications about the dangers of wandering.”