- It was recently “college colours day” for at an elementary school in Florida. But when one young University of Tennessee fan couldn’t get gear on short notice, he decided to make his own shirt, his teacher Laura Snyder wrote on Facebook.
- When the big day came around, the student, who is not named in the now-viral post, was bullied during lunchtime over the design, his teacher wrote.
- Snyder shared her plans to buy him an official UT shirt and asked if her Facebook friends have connections to UT because she wanted to make it “special.” Boy, did they deliver.
- UT sent the boy a care package of gear.
- And then they went a step further: The school released an official version of his design. When the gear was released on the school’s online shop, it crashed the website.
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An elementary school in Florida recently hosted a “college colours day” in which students were encouraged to dress in gear for their favourite school. One young Volunteers fan knew he had to rep the University of Tennessee. But out in Altamonte Springs, Florida, it’s hard to get official gear on such short notice, the student’s teacher, Laura Snyder wrote on Facebook Wednesday.
Snyder, who teaches fourth grade at Altamonte Elementary School, wrote on Facebook that she worked with the student to come up with a solution: He would make the shirt himself.
When college day came around, the student, who hasn’t been named, donned an orange T-shirt with a handmade UT sign.
But by lunchtime, his school spirit had turned into school dispirit.
“He came back to my room, put his head on his desk and was crying,” Snyder wrote. “Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colours day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED.”
She continued: “I know kids can be cruel, I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day.”
Determined to make things right, Snyder shared her plan online: She wanted to get him an official shirt. But what’s more, she asked her Facebook friends “if anyone has any connections to the University of Tennessee” because she “wanted to make it a little extra special for him.”
Boy, did they deliver.
UT is now officially selling the boy’s shirt.
Snyder’s post quickly went viral among Vols fans. By Thursday she updated the post to say that the student had a care package on the way from the school.
The school’s interim president, Randy Boyd, even took notice of the online hubbub.
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 System President Randy Boyd (@UT_President) September 5, 2019
The care package arrived in the Florida classroom on Friday. It included donations from UT for the student, his classmates, and Snyder.
Several campus departments donated items for the student, teacher, and entire class. pic.twitter.com/M4u3d6Eeo0
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 5, 2019
“I was so excited to surprise my student today!! I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming,” Snyder wrote in an updated version of the post on Friday. “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.”
But it doesn’t stop there. On Friday, Snyder also told the student that his design will be made into official UT gear sold in the UT store.
The T-shirt retails for $US15 and is currently available for pre-order with a late September delivery. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to STOMP Out Bullying.
When it was officially launched, people rushed to buy the T-shirt. In fact, people were so eager that the UT shop’s website crashed.
Share in a Florida elementary student's Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too! Pre-order today for a late September expected delivery. A portion of proceeds from every shirt sold will be donated to @STOMPOutBullyng .https://t.co/NdnTtYREFL pic.twitter.com/OeTZvgC09Y
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 6, 2019
Back in Florida, the student’s mum wrote a touching letter thanking the UT community.
“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,” she wrote. “Every comment, item sent, and action taken on behalf of my son will never be forgotten and hopefully serve as inspiration for him throughout his life.”
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