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Sharing a love for the water

DEC. 6 — At 17, Brian Tolkin is co-founder of Beams and Dreams, a program that has taken more than 1,000 cancer patients, survivors, and their families on all-day excursions to unwind and escape from the pressures of their medical disabilities. Now, he is one of 40 nominees in the Volvo for Life Award, which recognizes hometown heroes across the United States, according to The Log, Southern California’s boating and fishing newspaper.

The program began four years ago when Tolkin wanted a way to share his love for boating with others. Realizing this could not be done with only his family’s powerboat, he and his brother mailed letters pitching their idea to more than 100 boat dealers, marinas and boat owners, according to a report on the award Web Site. While many declined, a few significant companies agreed, such as Olympic Boat Centers, which donated the use of a 58-foot motoryacht during the group’s first outing in August 2003. The Elliot Bay Marina in Seattle then followed up a week later, recruiting 10 boat owners to participate.

Tolkin has since hosted more than 1,000 events with roughly $82,000-worth of donated services, including wooden schooners and cabin cruisers, bringing on board 11 national and local cancer organizations, according to the report. And participants don’t just get a cruise down Lake Washington and Puget Sound — there are magic shows, live music, barbeques and even custom T-shirts.

Winners will be chosen through online voting at from now until Jan. 7.

— Elizabeth Ellis