President Obama responds to Renton teen’s letter

Thomas Tran’s environmental concerns resonated with the president

In the era of texting and online messaging, letter writing — putting pen to paper, stuffing the letter inside of an envelope, licking a stamp and physically mailing it to someone — is a lost art form for many kids.

However, one Dimmitt Middle School teacher had her students all send handwritten letters to the president, and one lucky student received a response from Barack Obama himself.

Thomas Tran, 14, wrote to the president about the importance of preserving the local wildlife and saving the planet and it resonated with Obama.

“Letters like yours give me hope that we can meet those responsibilities,” the president said in his letter. “In the year ahead, I encourage you to talk to adults you know and see if there are ways you can help animals in your community. By coming together behind causes we believe in, we can make lasting change.”

The letter came with a signed picture of the president, another signed picture of the Obama family, unsigned pictures of the Obama family dogs, and a map of the White House.

Tran, who has mild autism, said he’s passionate about animals and making sure they don’t become extinct.

“Every animal deserves a life,” Tran said. “So many animals, like the dinosaurs, are becoming extinct. But animals must survive, too. If we cut out more trees, there is no oxygen for us to breathe.”

“I was surprised and shocked to hear that. I was speechless,” said Tran’s mother Lien Huynh on hearing that the president responded to Tran’s letter.

Tran said he has always had a passion for animals like tigers, kangaroos and crocodiles, but especially dinosaurs.

“He’s very into very into dinosaurs ever since age 5,” said Huynh. “He knew all the dinosaur names, and I couldn’t even pronounce some of them. He knows them all.”

As someone with autism, Tran said he does get bullied often, but many of the kids who have been mean to him came to congratulate him for receiving a response from the president.

“I still worry because he’s going to be different all his life,” Huynh. “He always gets bullied at school. Kids always pick on him because he doesn’t act the same and he’s different.”

But despite the bullying, she said that Tran remains a kind and helpful kid.

“He’s always very helpful,” she said. “Every adult he interacts with, they all say he’s very good to people… I’m proud of him.”

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