BY DARRYL Q. TUCKER
The Journal Managing Editor
Wanda Jean Butts was in Toledo only a few days after she was a Top Ten CNN Hero for her work with The Josh Project when she was planning a fundraiser in memory of her son, John-Joshua Butts.
Last week, the cable news network honored Butts during an internationally televised competition in Los Angeles and awarded her $20,000 for the non profit group she founded after the Aug. 6, 2006, drowning of her son in a Michigan lake.
“It was the greatest honor I ever received in my life,” Butts said Sunday, Dec. 9, during the Soulfood for Swimming fundraiser – A Fantastic Voyage at the Ramada Inn on Secor. “I’m very humbled.”
Butts said the tragedy of her son, who didn’t know how to swim and never had a swimming lesson, has turned into a triumph in life by teaching other children to swim.
There must be exposure and awareness to the epidemic of drowning, she said.
Butts said her son would have turned 23 on Dec. 9. She lit a candle in his honor.
“Our goal is to raise funds to support our mission,” Butts said. “All children should be given an opportunity to be educated and be safe around water.”
Kathryn Earley Moore, project manager for The Josh Project, who also accompanied Butts and her daughter, Tankeeya Butts, executive director of The Josh Project, to Los Angeles, said it was a good experience.
“It really was a good opportunity to give information to people who not otherwise would have had access to The Josh Project,” said Earley Moore, who started as a Josh Project volunteer and got her“It was a great trip.”
Earley Moore said she talked to people about fundraising, including those from the Rockefeller Foundation. They were trying to build their case to get funding, she said.
The Josh Project is designed to teach children water safety. Since 2007, it has trained 1,200 youths, mainly from urban backgrounds.
You may submit charitable contributions to www.joshproject.org or to P.O. Box 141015, Toledo, Ohio, 43614, payable to The Josh Project Inc.