Toledoan Wanda Butts has been named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012, which honors people who make significant contributions to better the lives of others.
The tragic loss of her 16-year-old son, Joshua, to a drowning accident six years ago prompted Ms. Butts to start the Josh Project, which teaches children how to swim and other water safety skills. As one of CNN’s 10 winners this year, Ms. Butts’ project will receive a $50,000 grant to further the nonprofit’s work.
The Josh Project targets minority children who are three times more likely to drown than white children. Ms. Butts says there is a fear of water among African-Americans, an aversion she had as a child and that she passed on to her own children. Had Josh known how to swim, she believes he might be alive today.
Ms. Butts refused to let her grief become debilitating, so she set out to see that no other parent or family suffers such a tragedy by starting the project. Some 1,200 Toledo children have since learned life-saving water skills as a result of the Josh Project, which has taken Ms. Butts throughout the country.
As one of the 10 winners, Ms. Butts has a chance to win a $250,000 grant for the Josh Project. The CNN Hero of the Year will be announced in a live broadcast on Dec. 2.
To help Ms. Butts be win, anyone can vote up to 10 times a day online or on a mobile device. Additionally, CNN says votes can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter. To cast your votes online, visit http://www.cnn.com/ SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/.