It’s not often kids hear from their heroes, but that’s just what happened to Jet Feirn, 9, on Tuesday.
Jet wrote a letter to Shaun White 15 months ago after being told by his mom that he was born with the same heart defect as White. Feirn and White also share a love for snowboarding, as NBC KARE 11 in Minnesota reports.
Jet was born less than four pounds with the heart defect tetralogy of Fallot, leading to two open-heart surgeries before kindergarten, according to the report.
The TV station first aired a piece on Feirn’s letter for White last month. A viewer with connections to White noticed and made sure the Olympic champion got the message.
White wrote back. Feirn received an autographed snowboard, helmet, goggles, a backpack and a poster on Tuesday.
Video: Shaun White’s band on ‘The Tonight Show’
Simone Biles is one of 11 finalists for Time‘s Person of the Year.
Time‘s Person of the Year, named annually since 1927, has never been an individual athlete or team. Tennis player Billie Jean King was part of the “American Women” group named in 1975.
In 2015, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner was one of eight finalists.
The Person of the Year “is the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
Biles, 19, is the only teenager finalist and is six years younger than the youngest-ever solo Person of the Year, Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Biles won four gold medals and one bronze in Rio, the largest collection for a female gymnast at one Olympics since 1988.
The Person of the Year will be announced on Wednesday morning on “Today.”
Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The Flint Whistleblowers
VIDEO: Biles shows Stephen Colbert how to stick the landing
Tonga’s famous flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, said he wants to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier.
“I’m going to be taking my Olympic dream one step further,” Taufatofua said in an Olympic Channel video published Monday. “My goal is to let people see, if I can do it, they can do it. The goal is to hunt down that Olympic medal at the 2018 Olympics.”
Sure enough, Taufatofua already has an International Ski Federation bio page. The federation lists one other Tongan cross-country skier with a bio, Makeleta Stephan, who was last of 93 finishers in a 2015 World Championships event.
In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary. Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.
Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his his shirtless, oiled-up appearance in the Opening Ceremony.
Judging by the Olympic Channel video, Taufatofua’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics look better for Tokyo 2020 than Pyeongchang 2018.
PHOTOS: Tongan flag bearer steals show at Opening Ceremony