Josh Project to be featured on HBO

By Jonathan Walsh - bio | email

Posted by Dave Dykema - email

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Wanda Butts is overwhelmed. The idea that HBO came to the area to cover her tragedy regarding her son's drowning and her subsequent efforts to teach inner city kids--and adults--to swim leaves her, well, overwhelmed.

"Part of my mission and my journey now is to educate people about the importance of knowing how to swim," says Wanda.

In August, 2006, Wanda's 16-year-old son John Joshua Butts drown when he ended up in water over his head while floating on a raft on Bird Lake in Hillsdale Co., Mich.

"I was heartbroken."

But instead of defeat, Wanda and the Greater Toledo Aquatic Club teamed up to help economically challenged children and inner city families learn life saving skills. Her unique efforts have caught the attention of gold medal swimmers, USA Swimming, and even the coach at Norfolk State University in Virginia who started Josh Project, Too.

"I just didn't want another mother and family to suffer the way I had to from losing my son because drowning is preventable," says Wanda.

Producers with HBO were on the Internet and came across her story. They wanted an interview at Bird Lake.

"I panicked because I had never been to Bird Lake."

But after praying about it she went and heard from the man who investigated Josh's death.

"It made me feel better about what had happened, knowing what happened and I got kind of a peace from it."

Wanda appreciates this new national exposure, helping to remember her son, and the importance of saving children.

The Josh Project segment will air this Tuesday at 10 p.m. on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

For more information on the Josh Project and how you can support the program, go to our web site and click on the Big Red Box.