San Jose Girl Sends Olympian Good Luck Penny | NBC New York
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San Jose Girl Sends Olympian Good Luck Penny

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    (Published Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014)

    When young Leanne Phan wrote a peppy letter to Olympian Jamie Anderson, of Tahoe, the 7-year-old from Northern California had no idea what would happen next.

    After winning gold in the first slopestyle snowboarding competition in Sochi, Anderson tweeted out how much she loved Leanne’s letter -  which the second grader sent to her from Baker Elementary School in San Jose. 

    “The most precious letter from a little girl named Leanne,” Anderson, 23, tweeted on Tuesday after her weekend win.

    Leanne - a shy girl with pigtails - found out about the tweet a few hours later from an NBC Bay Area reporter.

    “And she just jumped up and down,” Principal Anne Doumanian said. “We told her that part of the reason Jamie won gold was because of her nice letter.”

    MORE: Jamie Anderson Shares "Precious" Letter From Calif. 2nd Grader

    The letter oozes with 7-year-old cuteness.

    Besides telling Anderson how proud she is of her and that she should rub an enclosed "penny to get good luck,” each word is separated by handmade stars, colored in blue, purple,  pink and red. The good luck penny with the class mascot, a bear, is stuck to the letter with tape.

    “It is such a cute letter,” Leanne’s father, Dong Phan, an electrical engineer, told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday after dropping his daughter off at school.

    He said his entire family – including children, Darin, 12, and Lorin, 4 – love the Olympics. Soccer is his favorite sport, since he is a native of Vietnam, he said. But his children? “They love everything.”

    Leanne’s teacher, Debbie Pavlos, also loves everything about the Olympics.

    “I’m Greek,” she said, asking rhetorically if she needed to say more? Her father took the family on trips to Olympia, Greece, when she was young. In fact, in 2002, Pavlos' class got so involved in the Olympics that year, they were invited to be part of the official Olympic torch relay, which passed by the Tech Museum in San Jose.

    It was a member of that class – Zach McGrew, 19 – who came back to visit Pavlos’ second graders at the end of January. He remembered sending good luck pennies and writing letters to Olympians when he is in second grade. And so, he visited his old classroom, bringing with him a snowboard.

    That was the snowboard that Leanne got to ride with fake snow in the background, and which inspired her to research Anderson and write the history-making Olympian a letter.

    While a little bit tongue-tied during an interview on Tuesday, Leanne did have something to say to her new snowboarding idol: "Congratulations on your gold medal."

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Zach McGrew is the son of  NBC Bay Area business and tech reporter, Scott McGrew. NBC Bay Area's Alan Waples contributed to this report.