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Deadly Tornadoes Raking Parts of Mississippi, International Olympic Committee`s Concerned about Rio de Janeiro`s Preparedness to Host the Olympics; Mexican City of Puerto Vallarta Renovates to Attract Tourists; Stephen Sutton`s Battling Cancer While Fundraising for Cancer Charities

Aired April 30, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Seventy-five million people. That`s how many in the eastern U.S. had some risk of severe weather yesterday. That`s what first up this Wednesday on CNN STUDENT NEWS. Parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee were raked by suspected tornadoes. The storms killed at least 17 people in those three states, in addition to those who died in the central U.S. earlier this week. In Louisville, a logging town in east Mississippi, the damage from twisters was severe. Same thing in Tupelo, in the northeastern part of the state. A newspaper reporter there said that some buildings were just wiped away. A woman whose home was destroyed said that it hurts to look and not be able to come home, but that she was grateful that her dog survived and wasn`t hurt.

Forecasters are getting better at predicting these storms, sometimes as much as a day in advance. Communications are also improving. Radio warnings, news casts, social media posts are all helping save lives. But not everyone has a safe place to go to. Like an underground basement or a hardened safe room. So challenges remain.


JOHN COATES, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: From my experience, it`s the worst that I`ve experienced, but again, we just have to make it happen, and that`s the IOC`s approach.

We haven`t had to, as an IOC, send people - like this before. We`ve been struggling to get them to understand the problem. Test events are starting this year, and yet in the test event department, these two people working.


AZUZ: OK. That was the vice president of the International Olympic Committee, the IOC. He is saying that Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is way behind in preparing for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Any city planning to host the Olympics is subject to scrutiny. Will construction be done on time, will the area be safe? We heard concerns about Sochi, London, Beijing and now Rio. But the IOC say says it`s having to take a more hands-on approach this time around. There have been delays, communications problems, skyrocketing costs and Rio is hosting the World Cup Tournament this summer. So it`s been preparing for that, too. The city`s mayor says there`s no reason for concern about the Olympics, and Rio organizers say Brazil is spending almost $11 billion to make sure everything comes together. This will be the first Olympics ever held in South America.

As Rio scrambles to prepare and reassure future tourists that it`s worth the trip, a Mexican city is working to lure tourists back. We are taking you to Puerto Vallarta, a resort in Mexico`s Pacific Coast, a heaven for fishing, golf and sunbathing. It`s been hit by a recession, sickness and concerns about the Mexican drug war, but it says that violence is hundreds of miles away.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where they are parasailing Pacific Ocean or taking a tour on a historic ship on a beautiful afternoon, or dancing through the night at a trendy dance club, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico seems to always be in the party mood.


ROMO: Carlos Gerard-Guzman is a tourism director in Puerto Vallarta, a beach resort on the Mexican Pacific Coast. His job is to revitalize an industry that was all but dead five year ago. Drug violence throughout Mexico had driven away many tourists, and then, in 2009, an influenza scare made a bad situation even worse.

GERARD-GUZMAN: We were basically paralyzed like almost three months with no guests. No cruise ships in three months, and then (INAUDIBLE) with no flights. People were afraid to fly.

ROMO: Many hotels laid off employees and kept a skeleton stuff, some businesses closed down and many wondered whether tourists would ever come back. Recovery has been slow, but promising, thanks to significant investments in promotion in Mexico and abroad. New or renovated infrastructure, like this $2.4 million piers is also part of the plan.

This multimillion dollar project is one of several that had been completed here in Puerto Vallarta in the last couple of years. Tourism officials say their goal is to attract new tourists and to send a message to those who have been here in the past that it`s time to return. In 2012, 3.7 million people visited Puerto Vallarta, a figure that increased by 5 percent last year. Almost 40 percent are foreigners, mainly American and Canadian.

Drug violence has not really stopped in Mexico, but officials say, it happens far away from tourists` destinations like Puerto Vallarta.


AZUZ: Next today, there is no one cure for cancer. There are treatments, like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and while they can help people live longer, or even push cancer into remission, they often come with side effects, and questions about quality of life are raised. If there`s one person who can discuss that quality, it`s Stephen Sutton, a cancer patient in Britain.


STEPHEN SUTTON: That old saying go, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what you do when life gives you cancer.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Steven Sutton was diagnosed with cancer in December 2010. He was just 15 years old. He created a bucket list on Facebook, of 46 things he wanted to do before he ran out of time.

SUTTON: Some things on my bucket list include: skydiving, crowd surfing in a rubber dinghy, playing drums in front of a huge crowd. I ended up doing it live at Wembley (ph).

SHUBERT: But as he checked off each item, something else happened.

SUTTON: Since starting the bucket list, I`ve had people come up to me and offer to raise funds for me. For me personally to go on holiday or to take off a new item on my bucket list. But I`ve actually refused and decided to give the money to charity instead.

SHUBERT: He set a goal to raise 10,000 pounds, while he`s now raised more than 3 million. That`s about $5 million, and it`s continuing to grow with celebrities chipping in with their support every day.

SUTTON: Since starting the bucket list, my life has changed completely. I`m now doing so many weird and wonderful things. And so much more. The amount of opportunity is (INAUIDBLE) my way, it`s absolutely meant. And the one thing I`ve really enjoyed is the fund raising and help others. So, that`s the main thing I want to concentrate on.

SHUBERT: The money goes to teenage cancer trust. The charity that has helped them to each surgery, each round of radiation and chemotherapy.

SIOBHAN DUNN, TEENAGE CANCER TRUST: We aren`t a large charity, we raise about 12 million pounds a year. And in less than a week, Stephen has raised a quarter of our budget.

SHUBERT: But no amount of money can reverse the cancer in Stephen`s body. He`s exhausted his medical options and is now living as comfortably as he can under hospice care.

On the 22 of April, Stephen posted this message, "It`s a final thumbs up for me. I`ve done well to blag things as well as I have up until now, but unfortunately, I think this is just one hurdle too far."

But Stephen held on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazing young man, Stephen Sutton.

SHUBERT: For how long - he doesn`t know, but he has promised to continue posting for as long as he can.

SUTTON: I don`t really want to die, but if my story teaches others not to take life for granted, then so be it. In the meantime, I`ll be try and enjoy every second as much as possible. Cancer sucks, but life is great."

SHUBERT: Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


AZUZ: On our "Roll Call" today, we are visiting Saudi Arabia, Netherlands and Puerto Rico. Sounds like worldwide Wednesday. We`ll start in the Middle East where we are online at Jubail International School. They are on a roll in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

Next, to Europe, thank you for watching at Dristar (ph) college, it`s in Gouda, a city in Netherlands. And we`ll wrap up today`s roll in Puerto Rico. Good to see our viewers in Port Buchanan. They are watching in Timley`s (ph) Middle School.

AZUZ: Clip springer. Kind of sounds like something that keep a bag of chips fresh. Dwarf antelope, sounds more like this. But whether you call her Clip Springer or antelope, you got to call her cute. She`s the latest addition to Chicago`s Lincoln Park Zoo. Her mom wasn`t taking very good care of her, so zoo keeper stepped in to bottle feed the little girl, so you can`t bottle this much sweetness. She weighs four pounds and will tap out at about 24 pounds as an adult. Of course, as a baby she can`t lope yet, but there`s a clip spring in her step, and she`s got plenty room in it to grow. So, best to leather, just roam around while we hoof it and planning to bounce back your way tomorrow.

I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.