An elementary school boy in Florida was bullied for wearing a homemade university t-shirt—but now, thousands of people are opening their wallets to buy his design.
In a Facebook post that has been shared across the internet, elementary school teacher Laura Snyder describes how one of her students had been excited to participate in his school’s college spirit week by wearing the colors of the University of Tennessee. Since he didn’t have a t-shirt of his own, he decided to improvise by pinning a piece of paper with the university’s logo to his clothes.
“We discussed that he could wear an orange shirt to show his spirit,” Snyder wrote. “He told me every day leading up to it that he had an orange shirt that he was going to wear. So when the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt. I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label.”
Snyder was heartbroken, however, when the boy returned from lunch in tears because some other kids had teased him for his shirt.
She posted photos of the t-shirt to Facebook in hopes that it would drum up some support for the bullied youngster—and she was shocked by the results.
In addition to sending the boy a heap of school merchandise, the University of Tennessee and their Volunteers athletic program offered to sell the boy’s design on their website.
“When a Florida elementary school celebrated College Colors Day, one student inspired all of Vol Nation with his Volunteer Spirit,” wrote the school. “After he drew this design onto a sheet of paper and attached it to his orange shirt some classmates made fun of him. Vols were touched to learn of the student’s heart for the University of Tennesse and sent UT gifts of all sorts. Now you can share in this student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too.”
Since the shirt went on sale last week, the school website has received more than 16,000 pre-orders. In fact, the school website crashed from the sheer amount of internet traffic.
So proud of VOL nation today. More than 16,000 t-shirts ordered by 3 pm today, crashing the website which is back up. Giant shout-out to @UTVolShop who ignited this story. On every major network today showing what it means to be a VOL and step forward and act! #tennesseeproud pic.twitter.com/J42sY4ah7m— Donde Plowman (@DondePlowman) September 10, 2019
Needless to say, the response has had a huge impact on Snyder and her student.
“I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming,” says Snyder, describing the moment he received the box of goodies. “He proudly put on the jersey and one of the many hats in the box. All who saw had either goosebumps or tears while we explained that he had inspired and touched the lives of so many people.
“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped. He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today! Thank you to the UT Nation for that!!”
UPDATE 9/14: UT has just offered the boy a four-year scholarship to attend his favorite school!
(WATCH the emotional video message below)
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