A fourth-grader living in the suburbs of Orlando wanted to participate in his school’s “College Colors Day,” but he didn’t own any clothing from his favorite school, the University of Tennessee. He went to his teacher with his conundrum.
“We discussed that he could wear an orange shirt to show his spirit,” his teacher, Laura Snyder of Altamonte Elementary School, wrote on Facebook, adding that he was “SO EXCITED to show me his shirt” when the day finally came.
Unfortunately, his homemade shirt was mocked by a group of girls at lunch, and he came back to the classroom in tears.
Snyder put out a call to her Facebook friends to see if she knew anyone who could help her get the boy a special gift from the university, and naturally her post when viral among UT fans and attracted the attention of the school itself.
9/6/19 – UT really outdid themselves🧡!! I was so excited to surprise my student today!! I’m not even sure I can put…
“As a marketing and fan experience guy, I love the creativity that he showed there,” Jimmy Delaney, the associate athletics director for fan experience and sales at Tennessee told the university paper.
Various UT departments and the football teams donated enough items to outfit the boy’s entire class in the school’s trademark orange.
Several campus departments donated items for the student, teacher, and entire class. pic.twitter.com/M4u3d6Eeo0
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 5, 2019
Smokey, the school mascot, recorded an antibullying video and sent it to Snyder.
— Smokey (@UTSmokey_00) September 7, 2019
But the coolest gesture from the university to its young fan belongs to the VolShop, the official campus store. It designed an official T-shirt based on the boy’s design that’s now being sold online at a rate that was enough to crash its servers. A portion of the proceeds from each shirt is being donated to an anti-bullying organization.
Share in a Florida elementary student's Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too! Pre-order today for a late September expected delivery. A portion of proceeds from every shirt sold will be donated to @STOMPOutBullyng .https://t.co/NdnTtYREFL pic.twitter.com/OeTZvgC09Y
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 6, 2019
It seems that the goodwill from Rocky Top had the intended effect.
“My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box,” Snyder wrote. “All who saw had either goosebumps or tears while we explained that he had inspired and touched the lives of so many people.”
Snyder continued to say that the saga “is uniting my class even more than I could have imagined, and it was truly amazing to witness!!”