KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - The University of Tennessee turned a Florida boy’s homemade T-shirt into official apparel after he was laughed at for the shirt by some of his classmates, WVLT reports.
The boy made headlines after his teacher, Laura Snyder of Altamonte Elementary School, posted a picture of his homemade Tennessee shirt to social media. He wanted to represent the Volunteers on his school’s “College Colors Day” but didn’t have any official gear.
So, the elementary student got creative and made his own Tennessee logo, drawing the letters “U.T." on a white piece of paper and pinning it to an orange shirt.
Snyder said in a Facebook post her student was “SO EXCITED” about his shirt, but some other students bullied him over the sign, leaving him "DEVASTATED.”
She said she wanted to get him an official Tennesee shirt and asked her Facebook friends if anyone had any connections with the school. Little did she know that her request would get a huge response.
Fans of the Volunteers rallied behind the young boy to show their support, and the post had been up less than two days when the university responded and sent a package full of swag and apparel.
“My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box,” wrote Snyder in an update to her original Facebook post. “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.”
In addition, the university store announced Friday it would be adding the boy’s design to its T-shirt line. A portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold will go to anti-bullying foundation “Stomp Out Bullying.”
“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. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today!”
Demand for the student’s T-shirt was so high Saturday that it crashed the university’s online shop, CNN reports.
Jim Delaney, the school’s Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Experience, said the post had been shared with them Sept. 5.
“As a marketing and fan experience guy, I absolutely loved the creativity that he showed there,” Delaney said. “I think he will go from making his own T-shirt to now being the envy of the school.”
Both Snyder and the boy’s mother expressed their thanks to everyone for the response.
The university is currently taking pre-orders for the shirt. Delivery is expected for late September.