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VV student, store owner featured on Oprah Winfrey Network
Tale of the lost letterman jacket to air Thursday night
VICTORVILLE • When a Summit Leadership Academy sophomore's cell phone rang during class, she left class to answer the phone, assuming the call was related to her involvement in the Sheriff's Explorer Program.
Instead, the call was from producers at the Oprah Winfrey Network.
The producers told Alyssa Leon, 17, that they had read about her story and wanted to feature her in a new show called, “Lost and Found.”
In November 2011 the Daily Press ran a story on how Leon had contacted the owner of a letterman’s jacket that had been left in ABC Monogramming and Embroidery in Victorville for more than 10 years.
“I could barely talk,” Leon said, remembering the call. “The whole school was freaking out”
At 10 p.m. Thursday, more than a year after Leon first received the call in December 2011, her story will air in the premiere episode of “Lost and Found,” according to OWN spokesperson Domenic Morea.
“I never expected it to escalate to something like this,” Leon said.
In October 2011, Leon had visited ABC Embroidery to be fitted for her letterman jacket. Ineke Napier, the store owner, used a Victor Valley High School jacket, embroidered with the name “Jaquie Brown,” to check Leon’s size.
Leon was curious about the jacket, and Napier told her that the owner, Jaquie Brown, had never picked it up after making some payments. Leon decided to track Brown down through social media.
That day, Leon sent an email to someone she thought was the correct Jaquie Brown and finally received a response in November 2011. Brown, who had moved to Colorado, wrote that she had no idea the jacket still existed and made plans to send her final payment for the jacket. Soon after, the “Daily Press” featured the story and Leon received the call from OWN.
During the second week of December 2011, OWN film crews visited both Colorado and Victorville to film the story. At ABC Embroidery, Napier and Leon re-enacted their experience for the camera, and told their individual stories.
“I can never be in Hollywood,” Leon said, laughing as she described the difficulties of speaking for the camera.
To Leon’s complete surprise, OWN arranged for Brown to visit Victorville for the first time in over 10 years and walk into the store in the middle of filming. Napier described the moment as an emotional one for everyone present.
“I cried because I was so excited,” Leon remembered.
After the filming, OWN paid for both Brown and Leon’s jackets and expedited the shipping on Leon’s jacket so she would have it in time for Christmas, Napier said. As many months passed, however, Napier assumed that the story was never going to air.
Right before Christmas, both Leon and Napier received calls saying that their story would be part of the show’s premiere on Jan. 3. While Napier said she is excited to see her store on national television, Leon described mixed feelings.
“It’s a bit awkward. I’m worried about what my friends and classmates will think,” Leon said.
While she is nervous, Leon said she is grateful that she gained a friendship with Brown through the whole experience and that Brown was reunited with her jacket. Leon and Brown went out to dinner after their surprise meeting during the filming and now talk regularly.
“It’s amazing how similar we are,” Leon said. “It was a good thing, whether or not the show airs. I made a friend, and [Brown] got something she wanted.”
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