It was “college colors” day at an elementary school in Altamonte Springs, Florida, last week, and one of Laura Snyder’s fourth-grade students wore an orange T-shirt representing his favorite school, the University of Tennessee.
“He was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt. I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label,” Snyder wrote on Facebook, explaining that he drew his own UT logo with pen and paper and attached it to his shirt.
But after lunch, the student came back to her room 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,” Snyder wrote. “I know kids can be cruel, I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day.”
In an effort to cheer him up, Snyder wrote that she planned to buy him a University of Tennessee shirt. She asked Facebook if anyone out there had any contacts at the university “to make it a little extra special for him.”
What happened next completely floored her. Her post went viral on Facebook, eventually reaching University of Tennessee fans and then the university itself. The university responded by sending the student a package of UT swag for him and his classmates.
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. So many of us admire his love for UT and it’s awesome to see everyone step up to send him some UT gear!#EverywhereUT pic.twitter.com/83YqjzBxag— UT Interim President Randy Boyd (@UT_President) September 5, 2019
“I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming,” Snyder wrote in an update to her post. “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.”
But then things got even better.
The university’s official shop announced Friday that it decided to take the student’s handmade logo and turn it into an actual shirt. And some of the proceeds will be donated to an 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,” Snyder wrote. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today! Thank you to the UT Nation for that!!”
The student’s mother wrote a letter of gratitude that Snyder posted. It said, in part, “I can tell you that I spent a lot of my day reading all the kind words in support of my son and I’m touched beyond words,” she wrote.