A Florida student who was bullied over his homemade University of Tennessee t-shirt can now brag that his design is being used as official team gear from the college.
It all began when a fourth-grade student at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs, Florida, wanted to support his favorite team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers during his elementary school's "College Colors Day." Unfortunately, he didn't own any clothing with the team's logo on it. So, the boy decided to "make it work" and designed his own t-shirt to wear with "U.T.," the university's logo and pinned it to an orange t-shirt, his teacher, Laura Snyder said in a now-viral post on Facebook.
"When the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt," Snyder wrote Wednesday. "I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label."
However, the shirt was not well-received amongst the boy's peers, who made fun of him for his homebrewed shirt, making the spirited child break out 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.
Snyder's post quickly went viral among University of Tennessee alumni, who came together to leave supportive comments for the boy on Snyder's Facebook page. At one point, the University itself reached out to Snyder wanting to send a care package filled with all sorts of swag from the university. Snyder updated her post.
"I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming," she wrote in the update. "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 or tears while we explained that he had inspired and touched the lives of so many people."
That's not all - the University of Tennessee said it was turning the child's design into an official t-shirt, with proceeds from all sales going to an anti-bullying foundation.
"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.
"When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped," Snyder wrote in the update. "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!"
While Snyder kept her student's identity private, she did share a message from the child's mother, thanking everyone who supported her son.
"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 wrote in a note to the teacher.
"Thank you to Ms. Snyder for taking the time to stand up for her student and for caring enough to do so, thank you to UT and everyone involved in sending him the package, thank you to the kind alumni that paid for shipping and is hand delivering it to the school and most of all thank you to all of Vol nation for seeing in my son what we see in him everyday.