Blog Posts by Melissa Knowles

  • Remember the story of the girl who wanted to do whatever she could to help enslaved children? Well Vivienne Harr is a pintsize philanthropist who has raised more than $300,000 to help fight child slavery--all with the money she generated from a lemonade stand she set up outside her home near San Francisco.

    Vivienne was inspired to do something after she saw an image of two young slave boys in Nepal who were carrying stones with their heads. Now, just months after raising hundreds of thousands in money to end human trafficking, Vivienne's cause is taking a new turn. The 9-year-old's organic, fair-trade lemonade will be hitting the aisles of grocery stores. Make a Stand Lemon-Aid' is set to be bottled and distributed in April.

    Vivienne released a message on her website saying, "after 173 days of selling lemonade, I reached my goal of freeing 500 slaves, and waking up the next morning, I wanted to do more." And do more, she has. Vivienne explains, "These kids are being robbed of hope, and

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  • Les Mis Parody Inspired by Gangnam Style Goes Viral

    Awards season is in full swing in Hollywood. The Grammys were held on Sunday, and the biggest pomp-and-circumstances event of them all -- the Oscars -- is less than a couple of weeks away. One of the movies up for several nominations, including Best Picture, is "Les Misérables." But now the film is getting unexpected attention from an unexpected place -- South Korea.

    A new video, titled "Les Militaribles," is a 13-minute parody of the original, featuring members of the South Korean Air Force. The short film stars unknown soldiers dealing with the difficulties of regimented military life. In the opening scene, soldiers are made to shovel snow to clear a runway so that jets can take off at a moment's notice to defend the country against impending danger from North Korea.

    The parody was produced by the official blog team of the South Korean Air Force; the director majored in video arts in graduate school, and some of the airmen featured had been music school students. The video was not

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  • Terminal Cancer Patient’s Candor & Beauty Documented in Inspiring Video

    You might see pictures of Jill Brzezinski-Conley and think, at first glance, that she is a famous model in the latest ad campaign for a well-known fragrance or cosmetic line. You would be wrong. As told in a Huffington Post story, Brzezinski-Conley is a 35-year-old woman with incurable stage 4 bone cancer who is fighting for her life. At age 32, Brzezinski-Conley underwent a double mastectomy. Last August, she visited her childhood friend Nikki Closser, a wedding photographer, and asked Closser to take pictures of her breasts so that women could see what breast cancer looks like. She felt that the media never presents an accurate view. The two women hoped to send the pictures to magazines for them to use for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
    After the photo session, Closser shared her friend's story and some of the pictures with another photographer, Sue Bryce, who lives in Australia. Inspired by Brzezinski-Conley's story, Bryce contacted her via Skype and then surprised her with a
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  • India’s Rural Games Amazes with Bizarre Athletic Competitions

    Last summer, I witnessed some of the greatest sporting events of my lifetime while I covered the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. It was one of the most varied athletic events that I had ever seen or could hope to see. And then I was introduced to the Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Indian Rural Games.

    Dating back to 1933, the Indian Rural Games may inspire more cringes than oohs and aahs to onlookers unfamiliar with the competitions. Some of the events feature people lifting heavy objects (such as stacks of bricks) with their teeth, speedily tying turbans, and lying on the ground while tractors roll over them. These unusual events are mixed with motorbike stunts, dancing, and a race for participants over age 80. There are also competitions featuring camels, dogs, and other animals.

    The three-day festival is a celebration of India's farming communities, and it's gaining attention and new fans around the world. Nearly a million people show up for the event, which

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  • Australian Teen Rescued During Flooding Caught On Video

    Significant rainfall caused by tropical cyclone Oswald has resulted in destructive flood waters across Queensland, Australia. In fact, since Thursday night, there have been reports of about 20 water related rescues. A new video of a dramatic rescue of a teenager has emerged.

    The rescue took place in the coastal town of Rockhampton and the teen can be seen clinging to a tree as raging waters threaten to sweep him away. Then, just as one of the emergency workers is attempting to save the teen and pull him to safety, he is pulled from the boy by the strong currents of the water and he is taken toward a bridge. There is video of the entire harrowing encounter.

    Then, miraculously, the emergency workers are able to pluck the teen from the rushing water. The rescue workers and the soaking wet teen make their way away from the water and toward safer ground. The final images in the video are of the teen safely out of the water boarding an ambulance and out of harms way.

    Torrential downpours and

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  • Cancer-Stricken Dog Gets Epic Last Meal

    One of the hardest experiences that anyone can endure is the loss of a pet. The sometimes prolonged illness leading up to the pet's passing can be even more gut-wrenching. Lennox, a boxer breed, was plagued with cancer and arthritis, and he had survived multiple surgeries, but a recent tumor growth on his left shoulder made it difficult for him to even stand.

    Lennox's owner decided that the humane thing to do would be to put Lennox to sleep to end his suffering. His roommate, "Nikolaoss" on Reddit, explained the situation in a post on the site. He included a twist to the story: Lennox would be given an incredible last meal, consisting of a turkey leg, sausage, bacon, and rice. There's even a video of Lennox eating his last meal. Lennox goes for the bacon first.

    The post about Lennox received 24,000 upvotes on Reddit -- and tons of positive comments. People offered their condolences and shared their stories of losing pets. One user wrote, "One of the greatest lessons a pet teaches its

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  • 7-Month-Old Baby Dances to ‘Gangnam Style’

    At this point, it goes without saying that "Gangnam Style" is a hit song. It has, at the time of this writing, 1.2 billion views on YouTube, a legion of fans, and countless parodies. It's also reached an audience that is both young and old. But how young, you ask? Well, some kids seem to be learning how to "Gangnam Style" before they even learn to walk.

    That is the case in a recent YouTube video that is a huge hit, called, "7 Month Old Baby Dances to Gangnam Style." The video shows a little tyke who is actually very, very good at imitating the dance from Psy's original video. His moves are so prime, in fact, that commenters were in awe. One person wrote, "Baby has more rhythm than I do." Another added, "Well, my time was not wasted. I'm impressed." After seeing this 7-month-old, we'll have to see just how much more popular the song can get.

    [Related: Year in Review: Gangnam Style]

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  • Robber’s Change of Heart Inspires Clerk to Make Pizza

    When a crime is committed, it's not always a matter of black and white: Just because someone commits a crime does not mean that person is automatically bad. Take what happened at a Papa John's in the Helena, Montana, area. A man, armed with a knife, allegedly walked into the pizzeria early Tuesday morning as the staff was closing for the night and passed the clerk a note demanding money from the register.

    When the clerk began taking money out of the register to give to the alleged robber, the robber began to cry. As he cried, he explained to the clerk that he needed money for his wife and children, who were hungry. The warm-hearted clerk spoke to the man and decided to make him a pizza and some chicken wings. The man waited patiently at a table while the clerk prepared the meal, and when it was done, he took the food and left.

    Helena Police Chief Troy McGee hailed the clerk for handling the delicate and dangerous situation so well. "I'd say the clerk was pretty astute; I mean, he knows

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  • Dolphin Caught in Fishing Line Approaches Divers for Help

    Dolphins are known for being highly intelligent mammals. So intelligent, in fact, that they can communicate with humans even when they have not been trained to do so. That's what happened to a group of divers on an observation trip off the coast of Hawaii, known as the Big Island.

    While the divers were observing manta rays, they were approached by a bottlenose dolphin. Luckily for all of us, they captured the encounter on video and uploaded it to YouTube. Keller Laros, one of the divers, heard an unusual squeal from the dolphin. Laros realized the dolphin was in distress; a fishing line was wrapped around its pectoral fin. He described how he tried to remove the fishing line: "I was trying to unwrap it, I got the fishing hook out of the pectoral fin. ... I was worried if I tugged on it, it might hurt him more."

    The amazing part of the video is how cooperative and gentle the dolphin is as the divers help him. Laros was able to get the hook out and snip the fishing line near the

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  • Daughter Discovers Dad’s Seven-Year Drawing of a Maze 30 Years Later

    Many of us have found vintage items in our parents' storage spaces and wondered why they had kept the treasures locked away. Attics can be treasure troves, filled with memorabilia and items from the past -- many of which are no longer made. But what if you were to come across a piece of work that one of your parents had created, and you were so enthralled that you wanted others to experience it, too?

    A woman in Japan made an incredible discovery that is going viral. Known to the world by her Twitter handle @KYA7Y (we'll just call her K), she found an intricate maze that her father had drawn on a 23-by-33-inch piece of paper 30 years ago. The maze was not just some doodle that her father had whipped up in a few days. He took seven years to complete it.

    After K found the maze, she shared an image of it on Twitter. Lots of people saw it and shared it with their friends. From there, the photo was posted on Reddit, where it catapulted to international recognition.

    People on Twitter and

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