Toledo mom of drowned teen headed to LA for CNN Heroes tribute

A woman whose most devastating loss became a focal point in her life's mission will travel to Los Angeles today as a CNN "Heroes" competition finalist.

After Wanda Butts' 16-year-old son drowned in a Michigan lake six years ago, she knew she didn't want another mother to experience the pain she felt. The Josh Project, named after Butts' son, began teaching swim lessons in primarily urban areas in 2007 and has helped more than 1,200 Northwest Ohio children and adults learn how to swim.

The Josh Project's staff hopes that the public, which decides 2012's top CNN Hero by Facebook voting, will award the program designed to teach children water safety its top prize: A $250,000 grant.

â??Iâ??m almost speechless after looking at where weâ??ve come from and how this began,â?? Butts said. "I believe that, worldwide, this media attention will help establish swimming as a life skill that should be taught to all children."

Voting for the finalists ended on Nov. 28. The winner will be announced in a live broadcast at 9 p.m. on the cable network on Sunday, Dec. 2.