A Florida boy who was bullied and laughed at for his homemade T-shirt representing the University of Tennessee Volunteers at his elementary school’s college colors day has not only had his design made official by the university.
Laura Snyder, the boy’s teacher at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs, Florida, posted the story about the Tennessee-obsessed student.
9/6/19 – UT really outdid themselves🧡!! I was so excited to surprise my student today!! I’m not even sure I can put…
But by lunch time, the spirited Vols fan was in tears.
“Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED,” said Snyder.
Taking things into her own hands, Snyder then took to the internet to see if she had any connections to the University of Tennessee to help make the shirt she planned to get him “a little extra special.”
The post almost immediately went viral among Vols fans and, before Snyder knew it, she was contacted by the University of Tennessee informing her that they wanted to send him and the rest of his classmates a care package in support of her student.
“My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box. He proudly put on the jersey and one of the many hats in the box. All who saw had either goosebumps [sic] or tears while we explained that he had inspired and touched the lives of so many people … My student got to pass out UT swag to his classmates. They were ecstatic!! They immediately put on the bracelets and asked if they could fill up the water bottles. Then they went to our class sink and soaked the cooling towels to put around their necks. My students even enjoyed using their new pens to complete their writing quiz,” described Snyder.
“You all have taken this above and beyond what I had ever imagined,” wrote Snyder.
What’s more, University of Tennessee Volunteer said it was turning his “U.T.” design into an official T-shirt.
“Share in a Florida elementary student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too!,” the university’s official campus store said on Twitter.
Thank you Vol Nation! Currently, our website has crashed due to the overwhelming support! We are working on the problem. Once the server restarts, we anticipate the issue to be resolved. #GoVols #EverywhereUT pic.twitter.com/8s8aOAEKAl
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 7, 2019
According to the Tennessee Volunteers University, a portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold will go to an anti-bullying foundation.
“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped,” said Snyder. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today!”
Although Snyder kept the student’s photo and name private, she shared a note written by his mother on Facebook.
“I am overwhelmed by the love I feel from this extended community and the pride I feel for my son and for being a VFL. Every comment, item sent, and action taken on behalf of my son will never be forgotten and hopefully will serve as inspiration for him throughout his life,” his mom said.
Demand for the student’s T-shirt was so high on Saturday that it crashed University of Tennessee’s online shop.
Randy Boyd, interim university president, even chimed in, tweeting that he was “touched” by the student’s story and “loved his imagination behind designing his own shirt.”
I was touched to learn of a young Florida school student’s heart for the University of Tennessee, and I LOVED his imagination behind designing his own shirt. So many of us admire his love for UT and it’s awesome to see everyone step up to send him some UT gear!#EverywhereUT pic.twitter.com/83YqjzBxag
— UT Interim President Randy Boyd (@UT_President) September 5, 2019