By now most University of Tennessee Fans have heard this story of the bullied 4th grader in Florida that made his own UT Tennessee Vols T-shirt. Articles were written and this story was covered all over the United States, and the world. However, it is probably a story that we want to keep top of mind, and never forget. There are so many valuable lessons for all of us.
A student at Altamonte Elementary School in Florida wanted to represent the Tennessee Vols for his schools "College Colors Day" but didn't own any UT Tennessee Vols apparel according to his teacher Laura Snyder. So the creative fourth grader drew his own UT logo on a piece of paper and pinned it to a Vols orange T-shirt.
Kids at the school did what some kids do. They made fun of him and bullied him for his homemade UT Tee.
But according to his teacher, the student faced teasing from classmates for his homemade design.
"After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on on his desk and was crying," reported his teacher. "Some mean 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."
On a side note I think one of the most important attitudes we can help our kids develope is to learn how to not let the words of others effect our self-image and attitude. We read this book to our grand children hundreds of times, and honestly, I think it made a difference.
Ms. Snyder, the students teacher, shared the experience on Facebook. She asked her contacts if anyone had a contact with the University of Tennessee, and maybe they could find someone to donate an officially lessened Tennessee T-Shirt.
Her post went viral and the Vols community came together to support the young fan.
The university soon saw the post and sent a personalized care package to the boy and his classmates.
The University of Tennessee went way above and beyond a simple T-Shirt donation. The decision was made to feature the fourth graders logo on their official school merchandise Tee Shirt offerings. They also sent a huge box of Tennessee Vols merchandise to the boy to share with his class.
Hats, bags, school supplies bracelets, water bottles, towels and other UT swag soon arrived to Snyder's classroom. She said the experience united her students and that everyone was excited to receive the Vols merchandise.
The boy's original logo design is now an official school t-shirt, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to STOMP Out Bullying, a national anti-bullying organization.
"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," Snyder said.
The campus store even said there was so much demand for the design that its
website crashed. They received over 16,000 orders almost at once and many UT Fans where not able to get their shirt when this story first broke.
Thankfully the official design is now available on Amazon, you can reserve
yours now by clicking here
Snyder kept the identity of the student private, but shared a note from 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," she wrote. "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."
At RockyTopGifts.com and throughout the state we sometimes can lose sight that there is more to life than University of Tennessee football.
This feel good story, is a great reminder for all of us.
After this went viral, the boy who designed the shirt has been offered admission and a four-year ride to the University of Tennessee. The scholarship would cover the young man’s tuition and fees beginning in 2028 according to published reports.
Wouldn’t it be a story if he graduates with a degree in design?
There will be more to this story over the next few years, and we will keep our readers in the loop.