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Courtesy of Meredith McCardle (FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- One Potterhead took her love for the Harry Potter franchise to a new level after she spent nearly a month painting the first page of J.K. Rowling's popular book series on a wall in her home.

Young adult author Meredith McCardle recently moved into a new home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and decided she wanted to turn her home office into a haven of inspiration to write.

She originally wanted to stencil a French poem on her wall, but a friend suggested to the mother of two to instead "pick something that means something to you."

"Harry Potter was one of those books that I read when I was in college and I fell in love with it," she told ABC News. "It kick-started my love for young adult literature and that's what I write now."

McCardle, 39, said it took immense planning to pull off writing the first few words of Rowling's 1997 novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Instead of buying a stencil, which she said would've cost thousands of dollars, McCardle said, "I just decided to do it old school. My mom's a teacher so I borrowed her projector to create a stencil."

Courtesy of Meredith McCardle

The author then "painstakingly" filled in each projected word with black paint onto her wall.

"I did it all myself," she added, proudly.

But what she thought would be a quick four-hour project, turned into a three-week effort.

"I made a serious miscalculation," McCardle admitted. "But I'm not a quitter."

McCardle's hard work paid off. After sharing the now viral photos on her Twitter account, she even got the attention of Rowling herself.

Courtesy of Meredith McCardle

"I thought, 'There's no way she'll see this in a million years,'" she recalled. "But she eventually saw it and she favorited it and from that point it exploded. It was a really cool moment. It felt very surreal."

For now, McCardle doesn't have any other Harry Potter DIY projects in the works.

"I'm taking a break," she revealed. "I'm very sick of painting."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Courtesy Greg Smith(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A Florida man who was moved by a homeless woman who never asked him for money, even though he passed her every day on his way to work, said he finally found a way to help her only after she “dropped a bomb” on him – she never learned to read.

Greg Smith wrote in a now viral Facebook post that a woman who introduced herself as "Amy Joe" offered him polite greetings instead of requests for money as he went by her daily on his way to work in downtown Orlando. It led to the two having lunch every Tuesday.

"For 30 min to an hour I get to hear how positive she is even though she really has nothing," he wrote.

During one of those sitdowns, Smith, 25, wrote that his new friend "dropped a bomb on me."

"She cannot read. Amy Joe does not smoke, drink, have a drug addiction, or anything to that nature," he explained. "She simply just has never had anyone teach her how to read.

"She began to tell me any money that she can collect she uses to check out library books that help with learning to read instead of buying FOOD," Smith continued. "So now not only do Amy Joe and I sit and have lunch, I'm teaching her to read. I rent one library book a week and we read it together Tuesday and she practices on her own throughout the rest of the week."

Smith told ABC News that Amy Joe was ecstatic about their weekly reading date.

"She lit up! I could see in her face that she felt amazing," he said.

The sales account executive said he shared Amy Joe's story not to brag, but to inspire others to be kind.

And thanks to the large response, Smith started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new foundation he said he plans to start to benefit the homeless in his community. He's dubbed it the Amy Joe Foundation. As of Saturday, he's raised a little more than $1,000 and has already met with a lawyer to develop the organization, he said. He has even decided on his slogan: "One person at a time."

"I want to be able to help anybody, whether it be giving them some food or clothes," Smith said. "I don't want to just narrow it down to helping people read because there's so many other people that need more help."

And how does Amy Joe feel about what she's started?

Smith said he told her that their story went viral Friday.

"She thought it was amazing," he added. "She said, 'I can't wait!'"

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monkey Business/Thinkstock

(HOUSTON) -- Heavy rain and thunderstorms are slamming the South, one day after storms bringing flash flooding, tornadoes, and giant hail ripped through the area.

The threat for severe weather Saturday covers a large area, including Houston, New Orleans, Nashville and St. Louis, and up to southern Illinois and Indiana.

Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for parts of east Texas and central Mississippi, while a severe thunderstorm watch is effect until Saturday evening for eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.





The weather turned fatal early Saturday morning in eastern Texas, when a 64-year-old woman and four grandchildren were found dead amid flooding in Palestine. The town received nearly 8 inches of rain in less than 12 hours.

In Lindale, Texas, a tornado swept through the area Friday, destroying parts of the town and leaving several injured. Smith County, which includes the city of Lindale, issued a disaster declaration.

In Gulfport, Mississippi, the flooding was severe enough Friday to partially submerge a car.

In Oklahoma and Texas, hail -- some pieces bigger than a softball -- fell from the sky Friday.

In Kansas, a nickel-sized piece ricocheted off the ground and hit a woman in the tooth.

Rounds of heavy rain are expected to continue Saturday evening along parts of the Gulf Coast. Areas of heavy rain are also expected to hit farther north in the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Arizona Humane Society(PHEONIX) --  A tiny kitten is now recovering after being rescued from a manhole in Phoenix, Arizona, where she had been trapped for at least three days, according to the Arizona Humane Society (AHS).

The rescue started last Friday after a good Samaritan called with concerns about meowing in a storm drain, AHS public relations manager Bretta Nelson told ABC News. After lowering a snake cam through a storm grate, rescuers confirmed the meowing was indeed from a trapped kitten.

AHS emergency animal medical technicians (EAMTs) "lowered food to the little kitten as they kept watch through a snake cam snake cam" while waiting for the city to open a nearby manhole, Nelson said.

The rescue mission ended Sunday, when AHS EAMT Kelley Mallon was finally able to pull the kitten from the manhole through a trap and take her to AHS' Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital, AHS said in a news release on Wednesday.

The feline was fully examined and given a bath, AHS said, adding that the kitty was named Tera.

"While in relatively good health, the little girl weighs in at just one pound," AHS said. Tera "is now in foster care with Kelley as she gains another pound in order to go up for adoption in approximately three weeks."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

YouTube/Alexa Meade(SAN FRANCISCO) -- This proposal wasn’t life imitating art, but rather life becoming art.

Dan Levine came up with the perfect plan to capture his romantic, eye-popping proposal to longtime girlfriend Cristina Cordova on Sunday. He enlisted the help of a high school friend, artist Alexa Meade, who uses acrylic paint to transform her muses into what appears to be 2D pieces of art.

“A few months ago, he contacted me and asked if I could paint both him and his girlfriend,” Meade told ABC News of the exciting endeavor. “He asked if he could propose to her through that, and I was like, ‘Yes, oh my God, that’s amazing.’ I was so excited."

As they were roaming the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco covered in acrylic paint, the lovebirds obviously started attracting quite the crowd.

“It was cool because it became somewhat of a spectacle,” said Meade. “Random people would see us walking down the street and wander with us from location to location. It was such a curious thing.”

At the end of a long day shooting, the paint-covered couple paused for a few minutes in front of a wall that read, “NEW MURAL SOON.” Meade instructed Cordova to stand while Levine remained on bended knee.

Cordova giggled while saying, “I knew you were going to do it,” in the video capturing the adorable moment. The two have been dating for six and half years.

“They’re a lovely couple and they’re so in love,” said Meade. “If I can create art to celebrate that love, to commemorate one of the biggest moments in their lives, that’s amazing. It was really fun.”

Meade said it was absolutely a highlight of her career.

“I can create the art but the rest is up to them,” she said of her newly engaged friends.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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