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University of Tennessee turns bullied boy’s homemade shirt into official apparel

2019-09-09

Bully for him!

The University of Tennessee took the side of a young super fan who was bullied last month when he showed up to class wearing a homemade shirt.

The school’s official store announced Friday it would start selling a new shirt with the boy’s drawing on it, with proceeds going to an anti-bullying foundation.

The fourth-grader wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt for “college colors day” at his Florida elementary school, but he had to improvise by pinning a piece of paper with the letters “U.T.” to an orange shirt, teacher Laura Snyder said in a Facebook post last week.

“So when the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt,” she wrote. “I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label.”

But shortly after lunch, the kid went to her room, put his head on a desk and began crying. Some girls who sat next to him during lunch made fun of the sign he attached to the shirt.

“He was DEVASTATED,” Snyder wrote, without naming the boy “out of respect” for him and his family.

Her post went viral and within days the university sent him a box of official merchandise, including shirts, hats, bottles, pens and bracelets.

“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,” UT Interim President Randy Boyd said Thursday in a tweet. “So many of us admire his love for UT and it’s awesome to see everyone step up to send him some UT gear!”

Snyder said the boy didn’t know the box was coming and was beyond excited when he got it on Friday morning.

Thank you Vol Nation! Currently, our website has crashed due to the overwhelming support! We are working on the problem. Once the server restarts, we anticipate the issue to be resolved. #GoVols #EverywhereUT pic.twitter.com/8s8aOAEKAl

“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.”

UT’s VolShop unveiled the new shirt design on Friday afternoon and within hours its website crashed. The store said there’s been an overwhelming demand for the new item, whose sales will benefit the nonprofit Stomp Out Bullying.