After a fourth-grader in Florida was bullied for his homemade design, UT put it on an official T-shirt — raising over $120,000 for charity thus far
A Florida student’s T-shirt design inspired by the University of Tennessee has generated some significant funds for Stomp Out Bullying, thanks to the support of fans everywhere.
In late August, a fourth grader at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs designed a shirt to wear during his school’s “College Colors Day,” when he drew the University of Tennessee’s logo on paper and pinned it to an orange T-shirt he found at home because he didn’t have any official UT merch.
However, after lunch, the boy came back to the classroom crying, “devastated” after a group of girls made fun of his handmade shirt, his teacher Laura Snyder wrote in a Sept. 4 Facebook post.
After the story went viral, the university created an official tee with the boy’s design and announced on Twitter that a portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold will be donated to an anti-bullying foundation. Since then, more than 16,000 units have been sold out of the campus bookstore after the shirt went on pre-sale last week, UT’s Director of Media Relations Tyra E. Haag said in statement to CNN.
Haag added in her statement that the school is not making a profit on the shirt, which retails for $14.99. Half of that sticker price is what it costs to make the shirt, while the other half is going straight to Stomp Out Bullying. This means the school has already donated more than $120,000 to the organization.
To cheer up her student, Snyder explained in her post on Sept. 4 that she wanted to get him an official University of Tennessee T-shirt, and asked her Facebook friends if they had any connections to make the gift “extra special.”
The response, she said, was overwhelming. Her post went viral among Vols fans with many sending their support in uplifting comments to the young boy. It even got the attention of the university itself, who revealed in a press conference that they would be sending the young fan a care package of spirit gear.
According to the university’s online shop, demand for the T-shirt they eventually created after being inspired by the student’s story was so high it caused the website to crash temporarily. (The online shop says customers can expect their shirts to be delivered in late September.)
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“As a marketing and fan experience guy, I love the creativity that he showed there and it got back to us and got back to the football team, to campus here, to the Vol Shop,” Associate Athletics Director for Fan Experience & Sales Jimmy Delaney said, according to a campus publication, The Daily Beacon.
“I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming,” Snyder shared about the little boy’s reaction to the spirit gear he received. “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.”
“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped,” she added. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today!”