A boy from Florida was made fun of for a homemade t-shirt that he wore to school. Little did he know that he would have the last laugh, as the shirt he designed was about to become incredibly popular!
The student was a big fan of the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and he wanted to represent them during his elementary school’s college colors day. However, the problem was he didn’t own any of their apparel.
The boy was extremely eager and wouldn’t let that get in the way, so he took matters into his own hands.
“This particular child came to me and told me that he wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt, but he didn’t have one. We discussed that he could wear an orange shirt to show his spirit. He told me every day leading up to it that he had an orange shirt that he was going to wear,” Laura Snyder, the unnamed boy’s teacher at Altamonte Elementary School, wrote in a Facebook post.
When the college colors day came, the student came to school wearing – like he said – an orange shirt. But this particular one had an added detail – attached on its front was a white piece of paper with the letters “U.T.” written on it. It was the boy’s homemade design of the University of Tennessee logo.
He was wearing it loud and proud, but when lunch came, things took a sad turn.
“After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on on [sic] his desk and was crying. 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,” according to Laura.
Laura wanted to lift his spirits, so she planned to buy him a real University of Tennessee T-shirt. She sought the help of the internet to check if she had any connections to the university, and asked her friends if they knew anyone in the school who could “make it a little extra special for him.”
Her post almost instantly went viral among Vols fans, and it wasn’t long before Laura was contacted by the university telling her that they wanted to send the boy and his classmates a care package full of swag and apparel to show their support to the young fan.
Laura updated her original Facebook post on Friday to share how excited her student was when he received the package.
“My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box,” she said. “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.”
The best news was, the university decided to turn the boy’s homemade “U.T.” design into an official school T-shirt! A portion of the profit from every shirt will go to STOMP Out Bullying, a national non-profit anti-bullying organization.
The design became so popular, that the university’s online store crashed because of the overwhelming number of orders!
“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped,” said Laura. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today!”
After all the chain of events that took place last week, Laura shared another update on this story – a letter of gratitude from the boy’s mother.
“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,” the boy’s mom wrote.
Sometimes, the best ideas come from the hearts and minds of the young – and this boy and his special homemade shirt is the perfect example!