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Updated April 12, 2013
Media reports about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF)11/16+17/06: The Maneuver Parts I + II by Chuck Goudie, ABC7 Chicago - click here for text version
REPORTERS, BLOGGERS: Click here for unreported & under-reported newsworthy SALF stories: Arne Duncan, Gery Chico, Chicago Public Schools, Ronald McDonald House Charities, CDC, and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program.
David Hasselhoff PSA for the Save-A-Life Foundation, December 1993
One of Illinois' highest profile charities teaches the Heimlich maneuver to children while maneuvering the truth to get money from government and big business. It's called the Save-A-Life Foundation and is known across Illinois as an organization that teaches schoolchildren how to respond in emergencies. For the past few years, Save-A-Life has received millions of dollars in government funds and corporate donations. An ABC7 I-Team investigation has uncovered a series of misleading claims and deceptive credentials that raise doubts about Save-A-Life's integrity, funding and training.
1/17/07: Foundation Ends its Relationship with Dr. Heimlich by Chuck Goudie, ABC7 Chicago - click here for text version
5/31/07: Save-A-Life's main government funding may be drying up by Chuck Goudie, ABC7 Chicago - click here for text versionIn a letter, (IL Senate President Emil) Jones writes that "issues and questions have been raised in the past year regarding SALF," and he "strongly encourages the foundation to answer those questions." He wrote the letter to Chicago woman Julia Rickert after receiving her complaint about Save-A-Life's use of state funds. Rickert worked at Save-A-Life's Schiller Park headquarters in late February as a temporary employee...Rickert says she was told her assignment was to find misspellings in a new first responder's manual being prepared for it's instructors, but she says her supervisor had something else in mind. "He never mentioned proofreading at all. He said their manual needed to be edited. They wanted it rewritten on a high school level. They wanted me to rewrite the entire book line by line," said Rickert said. A Save-A-Life spokesman confirms to ABC7 that temp workers typed the copyrighted book into their system then hired Rickert as a temp who was told to rewrite it. The charity contends it was to be a first draft for a new training curriculum, even though Rickert had no expertise in emergency response.
October 2007: Tattoos Tell a Story of Abuse by Tim Coleman, Skin & Ink magazine
9/10/08: Heimlich Maneuvering - Thousands of local schoolkids were taught a faulty lifesaving technique thanks to (Mayor) Manny Diaz by Tim Collie, Miami New Times
9/26/08: (Sen. Norm) Coleman Connection to Shady Non-Profit Highlighted; Coleman Campaign Defensive, MN Democratic-Farmer Labor Party press release (includes full text of syndicated article by Forum Communications political reporter Scott Wente)A Forum Communications article published today in the Detroit Lakes Tribune highlights Senator Norm Coleman's exceptional involvement in winning authorization for a $40-million grant to a shady foundation that supposedly taught children first-aid procedures. In September 2006, Senator Coleman was the sole sponsor of a bill to spend $10 million dollars a year over four years to teach children the Heimlich maneuver. The intended recipient of the money was not a Minnesota-based non-profit, but the Save-A-Life Foundation of Chicago.12/14/08: (Putnam County) Health chief denies troubled foundation link by Marcela Rojas, The Journal News (Gannett)Dr. Sherlita Amler, who has led Putnam's Health Department since 2004, is named, along with her husband, on the (Save-A-Life Foundation's) Web site as a member of the medical advisory board. But Amler said she wasn't aware she was still on the Web site.12/21/08: Putnam health chief asked a year ago about link to troubled foundation by Marcela Rojas, The Journal News (Gannett)
...Amler said it was a conflict because she worked with the Illinois-based Save A Life Foundation about six years ago, when she was a medical officer with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. At that time, SALF received a federal grant and she served as a "scientific adviser" on the project, Amler said.
Meanwhile, her husband, Dr. Robert Amler, a dean at New York Medical College in Valhalla and a Hawthorne-based pediatrician, said he knew he was on SALF's medical advisory board. He worked with SALF in 2003 when he was the regional health administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services, he said, assisting the foundation with figuring out where to seek federal funding.
As dean of the medical college's School of Public Health, Robert Amler said, he appointed SALF founder Carol Spizzirri in 2005 to be a visiting lecturer at the college. Spizzirri is listed as such on the medical college's Web site under the School of Public Health's Health Policy and Management Department, though in an archived page on the SALF Web site under Spizzirri's biography, it says she was "invited by the New York Medical College as an adjunct professor for Pre-EMS, with its newly created department of emergency preparedness."
The medical college listing also indicates she is a registered nurse and holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from a Wisconsin college, credentials not supported in state or college records.Putnam Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler denied having any ties to the Save A Life Foundation or knowing her name was listed on its medical advisory board earlier this month even though a county legislator sent her a memo more than a year ago inquiring about her involvement with the embattled agency.
1/6/09: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's FY2009 earmark for SALF & IL Sen. President Emil Jones Jr. listed as a SALF corporate officer by Doug Ross, Director Blue (blog)
5/12/09: Unusual Illinois Channel interview with Save-A-Life Foundation founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri in which she claims she's the victim of "cyber stalking." At time stamp 3:30, Spizzirri says she's working on related legislation with IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
7/14/09: Lawsuit Against Haap, Heimlich Dismissed by Kevin Osborne, Cincinnati CityBeatAn Illinois-based organization dropped its defamation lawsuit this month against local blogger Jason Haap and two other critics. The two-year-old case was widely viewed as having the potential to set a precedent involving First Amendment protections for online commentary. ..The Save-a-Life case was the eighth most-viewed case on a Harvard Law School-affiliated Web site that monitors Internet-related free speech cases. Save-a-Life is an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Citizen Corps, a department subsidiary organized by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Although Homeland Security officials ordered the foundation to remove the DHS logo from its Web site and materials in spring 2007, the foundation still has the DHS logo on its Web pages.
10/2+5/09: Due Diligence? Part I & Part II by Jon Margolis (former Chicago Tribune chief political correspondent) re: the president of the Vermont Electrical Power Company's connections to SALF (blog)
10/11/09: Save-A-Life Foundation in limbo - Charity dogged by critics, economy is 'in hibernation' by Lisa Black, Chicago Tribune(Carol) Spizzirri launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children emergency response techniques, raising at least $8.6 million in federal and state grants for her Save-A-Life Foundation. Firefighters and paramedics were recruited to offer instruction on how to apply CPR and stop bleeding and choking, said Spizzirri, who estimates 2 million children took the classes, many of them from the Chicago Public Schools...The Federal Emergency Management Agency adopted the program as one of many Citizen Corps affiliates, but, "The group did not receive funding, and Citizen Corps has since ended its affiliation with the foundation," said spokesman Clark Stevens ...Today, Spirrizzi is consumed with a new project: helping municipalities fight cyber-crime. She said she is starting a private business with close friend Rita Mullins, 64, former mayor of Palatine.
12/13/09: Gerald Bracey's Last Column: The Skeleton in Arne Duncan's Closet by Paul Rosenberg, Open Left
1/13/11: Did Save-A-Life rip off Carpentersville, Illinois? If so, maybe Rita Mullins can help locate the missing funds!
Business partners Carol J. Spizzirri & Rita Mullins, Spring 2010
10/16/09: Group in Heimlich Scandal Disbands by Kevin Osborne, Cincinnati CityBeat
11/23/09: From Exclusion to Misrepresentation: Chicago Tribune Reporter (Lisa Black) Raises More Questions Than She Answers by Chris Johnson, Cincinnati Beacon (blog)What also wasn't included in Lisa Black's (October 11, 2009 Chicago) Tribune article was that her name was on the list of requested witnesses on behalf of SALF for the very lawsuit on which she reported. I sent Lisa Black, as well as her editors Peter Kendall and Peter Hernon, multiple requests to comment on whether they were aware that Black's name appeared on this list and if they felt that this information should have been disclosed to readers. (I) didn't receive a reply from any of them....
9/28/10: In Illinois congressional race, challenger raises questions about charity by Zak Koeske, Medill News Service
9/29/10: The State Investigates the Save-A-Life Foundation, WSIU radio (NPR)
9/29/10: Opponent accuses (Congressman) Shimkus of lack of oversight by Bernard Schoenburg, The State Journal-Register (Springfield IL)Tim Bagwell, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from the 19th Congressional District, is accusing his opponent, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, of failing to oversee a group for which he helped get federal funds...Bagwell was referring to the former Save A Life Foundation, which was dissolved in September 2009, according to Robyn Ziegler, spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office. The foundation, which was based in Schiller Park and run by a woman named Carol Spizzirri, received state and federal grants to oversee training of school children in life-saving techniques such as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Ziegler said the foundation's finances are being reviewed by the attorney general's charitable trust division, a routine process for a closed charity. An extra review of its financial reports is being done due to a complaint the office received, she added.10/8/10: Shimkus opponent sees uphill fight by Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register (Springfield IL)(Congressman John) Shimkus helped secure funding for the Save A Life Foundation, which oversaw training of school children in life-saving techniques. News reports as far back as 2006 questioned the foundation director. s credentials and whether the group had trained the number of students it claimed to have trained...I think oversight is what is missing in Washington, (challenger Tim) Bagwell said. "They don't investigate enough. I think we are up to our neck in problems where the money isn't being spent appropriately."10/11/10: Democrat challenger tries to tie Shimkus to CDC funding controversy by Julian Pecquet, The HillBagwell sent an 8-page letter to Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson on Monday requesting that the office "review and determine" whether $3.3 million awarded to the Save-A-Life Foundation were "properly administered." Bagwell also sent a letter to Shimkus last month asking him to investigate the nonprofit for which he helped secure $1.5 million in 2004 and 2005...Bagwell also wants the inspector general to review the relationship between the nonprofit and CDC Deputy Director Douglas Browne, who served as the nonprofit's corporate treasurer from 2004 to 2009.10/12/10: Democrats tout plans by Kevin Ryden, Olney Daily Mail (Olney, IL)
10/11/10 Bagwell for Congress press release, letter to the HHS Inspector General(Bagwell) said Shimkus and others received earmarks from the foundation. Bagwell said Save A Life Foundation was supposed to train people in CPR and that millions of dollars have gone to the organization and "it went poof."10/19/10: Possible Charity Scam by Sophia Beausoleil, WCIA-TV, Champaign-Urbana IL CBS affiliate (Save-A-Life Foundation's relationship with the National Guard Lincoln's ChalleNGe youth program)
10/25/10: Local company snared in scandal - Candidate seeks to make public Portsmouth firm's financial records regarding partnership with Save-A-Life 'scam' by Elizabeth Dinan, Portsmouth Herald (New Hampshire)
Dare Mighty Things is caught in the mudslinging of a Chicago congressional race, with the congressional challenger calling for an accounting of the local company's books and a national investigation. Tim Bagwell, an Illinois Democratic candidate for Congress, issued a public statement last Monday describing Portsmouth-based Dare Mighty Things as a funding source for a former nonprofit that raised millions of dollars by "making false claims." The organization, the Save-A-Life Foundation, claimed to have taught CPR and other lifesaving techniques to millions, then closed amid controversy in July 2009. By all accounts, it was largely funded with public money, including at least $590,000 in federal funds through DMT for CPR training by the National Guard at 33 military bases in 27 states. When it contracted with Save-A-Life, DMT should have known the company was founded on "false claims" to perpetuate "a scam," Bagwell said ...(DMT founder/president David) Van Patten called the Chicago candidate's demand for his company's financial (and training) records "absurd" because DMT is a private company. Bagwell said the company may be private, but the funds he's questioning were federal, so the records should be publicly disclosed.
Dare Mighty Things president David Van Patten, Photo: Daily Gazette,Schenectady NY, 7/2/10
Fides: Faith and Money in the Bush Administration by Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly, 3/21/06: (Some) relatively unusual . secular. entities discovered funding opportunities in the Compassion Capital grants. Assigned the function as the resource center for HHS's faith-based grant is "Dare Mighty Things," founded by Dave Van Patten. DMT staff and consultants boast a bevy of major faith-based assignments, including Youth for Christ/USA, Promise Keepers, the Christian Management Association, Executive Leadership Program, the Prison Fellowship, and the DeVos Family Foundation.
(Save-A-Life founder/president) Spizzirri was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats, although it was a matter of record that she had been convicted twice for shoplifting. Save-A-Life began raking in money from government grants...By this time, her foundation had raised about $8 million from such groups as the Illinois Department of Public Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control, and she had been paid more than $100,000 in some years. She had gathered support from such politicians as Democrat Dick Durbin, now a Senate kingpin, and Norm Coleman, then a Republican senator.
...Arne Duncan, then the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, now United States Secretary of Education, had lauded what the foundation was doing for the schools and effused, "Carol [Spizzirri] is one of my heroes."
... On June 29, 2009, the Save-A-Life Foundation closed down. And Carol Spizzirri came to San Marcos. I have confirmed that she and a former treasurer of Save-A-Life are living at Palomar Estates West, a mobile home community in San Marcos.
...On May 18, 1992 - four months before the fatal accident - Christina filed for an order of protection against her mother. A neighbor who lives four houses away was willing to be Christina’s primary caretaker. The complaint stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina “on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions.” The order of protection, granted the same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her daughter at several locations such as school and work. Christina “fears her mother will attempt to harass her or retaliate,” said the complaint. Spizzirri asserted, among other things, that she could use “reasonable force to discipline a child” who needed medical attention.
2/17/11: Gery Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection: What Was His Role At Troubled Charity? by Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post
According to documents obtained by Huffington Post Chicago, mayoral candidate Gery Chico appears to have been closely involved with a scandal-plagued high-profile charity.
Though the exact details of Chico's involvement with the now-shuttered Save A Life Foundation are not yet known, documents state that he was on the foundation's board of directors near the height of its alleged fraudulent activity. Puzzlingly, in the face of those documents, the Chico campaign has persistently denied that he was ever on the board.
...Save A Life lashed out with defamation lawsuits that ultimately failed, as did the charity itself, which shut its doors in the summer of 2009.
The collapse of the foundation was politically uncomfortable for a number of major figures in Illinois, from President Barack Obama to now-Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who were connected to it in some way.
6/1/11: An Open Letter To US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by Michael Paul Goldenberg, Rational Mathematics Education (blog)
The Honorable Arne Duncan
US Secretary of Education
Dear Mr. Duncan:
I'm a mathematics educator working in an urban public school district. On my blog, I'm reporting about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), an Illinois nonprofit with which you were associated when you served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
...In response to a federal court subpoena and FOIA requests, the only records produced by CPS indicate that at best a few dozen students ever participated in SALF training classes. As result, Chicago Schools Inspector General James M. Sullivan has been asked to investigate what happened to approximately $62,000 CPS awarded to SALF, most of which was arranged by you. Records show that you contracted with Spizzirri to provide first-aid training for approximately 18,000 students from 2004-2006. You signed off on $49,000 in CPS funds and Ronald McDonald House Charities provided an additional $125,000, making a total of $174,000 paid to SALF for what appears to be a program that never happened.
Given the facts, do you think Inspector General Sullivan should proceed with an investigation? And would you co-operate with such an investigation?
6/22/11: Chico’s confirmation as state school boss hits snag by Dave McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times:
Gery Chico and IL Governor Pat Quinn
Former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico’s appointment as chairman of the state Board of Education hit a snag Wednesday amid GOP questions over his ties to a now-defunct non-profit organization.
Based on issues raised by a Texas blogger, Senate Republicans put the brakes on Quinn’s appointment, asking that Chico personally appear before a Senate panel to explain his relationship with Save A Life Foundation, a charity that is undergoing a probe within Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office....Reached late Wednesday, Chico said he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the organization and first became aware of it as chairman of the Chicago Public Schools board.
6/22/11: Committee holds up 2 of Quinn's appointees by Chris Wetterich, Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register
Two of Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointees were held up in a Senate committee Wednesday, including his nomination of Gery Chico to chair the State Board of Education.
The governor’s office predicted they would have no problem being confirmed later. Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, said he asked that Chico’s appointment be held so that he could be asked whether he participated as a board member in the now-defunct Save A Life Foundation, a charitable organization that has faced media scrutiny over whether it trained as many children in first-aid as it said it did. Chico was an unsuccessful candidate for Chicago mayor earlier this year.
“There’s some indication that he was on the board at some time. There’s also an indication that he has denied that. I don’t know. But we need to look at it further,” Bivins said, emphasizing that he was not accusing Chico of wrongdoing. “There’s millions of dollars that went to this foundation from not only the state, but from federal funds also...I’d just like a clarification.”
Save-A-Life Foundation founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri & Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, 2/18/05
6/22/11: Lawmakers vote to cut their pay again by Monique Garcia and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune
Meanwhile, the Senate held off on confirming Quinn's appointment of former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico to lead the State Board of Education.6/23/11: Gery Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection Delays His Appointment To State Board Of Ed by Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post
Republicans asked that the matter be put off until Chico can come to Springfield to answer questions about his connections to Save-a-Life, a nonprofit group that critics contend wasted millions in government money.
Chico said he has not had any contact with the defunct nonprofit in more than a decade and that his only involvement was trying to ensure Chicago Public Schools students learned first aid techniques.
"I'm wide open and look forward to a discussion," Chico said.
An archived copy of the foundation's website also listed (Chico) on the "National Board of Directors" in 2003.
During the campaign, Chico's office repeatedly denied to HuffPost Chicago that he had served with SALF. "That link you sent is wrong. Gery was not on that board," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said at the time, when presented with a copy of the document.
Chico made a similar statement to the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, saying he hadn't had contact with the foundation in "more than a decade."
If true -- that is, if he didn't serve on the board -- Save A Life could be in some serious trouble. Maura Possley, deputy press secretary for the Illinois Attorney General's office, said in February that misrepresenting the Board of Directors on an annual report amounts to perjury, a Class 3 felony.
The Save A Life Foundation was founded by Carol Spizzirri with the stated purpose of preparing schoolchildren for emergencies. Spizzirri often repeated that her inspiration to form the foundation was her daughter, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident when first responders didn't know the techniques to stem her bleeding. An investigative report in 2006 showed that her story about her daughter was false, she herself wasn't an R.N. as she'd claimed, and her organization had apparently trained far fewer students than it had claimed. That investigation ultimately led to the organization's collapse.
Chico was, by his own admission, a supporter of the organization in 1999: as president of the Chicago school board, he signed a resolution praising SALF and certifying that it had trained thousands of CPS students. But he wasn't the only one to support SALF: politicians as formidable as Barack Obama and Arne Duncan were close to the group.11/10/11: Bivins scrutinizes questionable uses of state funds by Emily Coleman, Sauk Valley Telegraph
Save-A-Life Foundation is one of a couple organizations (Senator) Bivins is looking at...“Where’s our money going?” Bivins said. “Where’s our tax dollars going? Where did it go?...As taxpayers, we have a right to know where the money’s going.”
The former Lee County sheriff wants investigations and audits of these groups, he said.
(Gery) Chico agreed.
“I think if there’s probable cause for wrongdoing, especially if it involves public money, there ought to be an investigation, sure,” Chico said.
3/14/12: Applications of Illinois Eavesdropping Act still being debated - A whistleblower’s story by Susan Johnson, Rock River Times (Rockford, IL)
Problems with the Illinois Eavesdropping Act have attracted the attention of several different groups and individuals. Peter M. Heimlich is a small business owner in suburban Atlanta who does original reporting on his blog, The Sidebar. His research about the career of his father - the doctor known for “the Heimlich maneuver” - has resulted in dozens of media exposés, including an ABC 20/20 report by Brian Ross. Recently, he became involved in another case that involves a whistleblower and a now-discredited charity.
7/30/12: Ill. judge declares state's eavesdropping law unconstitutional by Amanda Simmons, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
An Illinois judge ruled last week that the state’s eavesdropping law – one of the broadest restrictions on audio recording in the nation – is unconstitutional.
The decision granted a request for dismissal made by Annabel K. Melongo, a 39-year old woman who faced criminal charges under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act....Melongo, who is representing herself in court, recorded three phone calls with a clerk at the Cook County Court Reporter’s office in Illinois without consent and posted them on her watchdog website in 2010, incurring six charges of eavesdropping.
...The conversations she recorded involved other charges that have been brought against her for computer tampering in 2006, when she worked as a computer programmer for a scandal-ridden and now defunct non-profit organization, the Save-a-Life Foundation. Melongo's motion to dismiss those charges is currently pending.
11/7+8/12: Jailed For Recording Law Enforcement Parts I & 2 by Patrick Fazio, NBC2 Terre Haute, IN
11/13/12: Emanuel downplays eavesdrop act by Carol Marin, Chicago Sun-Times
That’s a big no-no under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, one of the toughest two-party consent laws in the country.
One woman, Annabel Melongo, spent 20 months in Cook County Jail before a judge finally freed her.Her crime: She had recorded a couple of phone calls with a court clerk. We’re talking felony, folks.
3/14/13: You Paid For It: Where's the money? by Steve Staeger, WCIA-TV (CBS affiliate), Springfield, IL
Three years after a state-funded not for profit dissolved, there are still questions about the group's finances.
The Save-A-Life Foundation was founded in 1993 with a mission to teach kids and adults more about emergency life saving maneuvers.
The group's founder, Carol Spizzirri, decided to start the group after her daughter died in a car accident. Spizzirri claimed it was a hit-and-run accident and the first responders on the scene didn't know lifesaving procedures.
But published reports in the years to follow would reveal a different story. Spizzirri's daughter was in a car accident, but it wasn't a hit and run. It was a single car accident. Her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit at the time of the crash. And she didn't die at the scene. She died later at the hospital.
Reports also questioned Spizzirri's qualifications. She claimed to be a registered nurse, but records couldn't be found in Illinois or Wisconsin, where she attended school.
And though the Save-A-Life Foundation was educating students, records weren't kept to back up the claims of training "hundreds of thousands" of children.
Amid questions about the organization's mission and finances in 2009, the not-for-profit dissolved with the state of Illinois.
In its 16 years of existence, the Save-A-Life Foundation got close to $9 million in funding from both federal and state government.
And as the organization was looking to move its operation statewide in 2003, it got $200,000 in state grants to buy a building on Capitol Ave. in Springfield.
When the foundation dissolved in 2009, it sold the Springfield building for $109,750, according to tax records. But the group did not list the sale in its final filing with the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau.
WCIA 3 obtained documents revealing correspondence between Save-A-Life officials and the Illinois Attorney General. In the months following the dissolution, the AG repeatedly asks for documentation on the money obtained thought the sale. Spizzirri never provides any accounting of the money.
4/12/13: Durbin, Obama linked to defunct Chicago nonprofit under investigation by Patrick Howley, The Daily Caller
Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin urged a Senate subcommittee chairman to appropriate $1 million in federal funds for a Chicago nonprofit that is now under investigation for potential fraud, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller.
Durbin’s relationship with Chicago’s embattled Save-A-Life Foundation began in the mid-1990s and continued for at least several years, with Durbin even being listed as a member of the foundation’s “Advisory Council,” according to the documents.
President Barack Obama also had a relationship with Save-A-Life during his tenure as an Illinois state senator and U.S. senator, meeting with the organization’s founder and earning praise from the Foundation as a legislator who was “always supportive” of its publicly-funded efforts.