Kids can be mean.
That’s not news, but it still hurts when bullies come for you or your child – and that goes double when the child is hurt after trying his best to fit in with the rest.
It all started when Altamonte Elementary School in Florida encouraged its students to dress in their favorite college or university colors for College Colors Day. It was Laura Snyder, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, who shared the story of one of her students on Facebook.
The young University of Tennessee Volunteers fan was “SO EXCITED” to show off his homemade t-shirt, but the day took a turn when he was confronted by some mean girls at lunch.
He returned in tears after “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. 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.”
Snyder wanted to buy him an official shirt and reached out to her Facebook friends to see if anyone had connections that could “make it a little extra special for him.”
UT associate athletics director Jimmy Delaney said the school’s official store was sending a “Volunteer Proud Pack” to the boy and his classroom.
Snyder shared an update after they received the pack.
“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.”
“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 University of Tennessee went one step further, announcing that they would be turning the student’s homemade shirt design into an official T-shirt and donating the proceeds to an anti-bullying foundation.
Overwhelming demand for the design caused the university’s servers to crash – over 16,000 have been purchased so far.
“As the Volunteers, the University of Tennessee believes in putting others before ourselves. We’re so glad we were able to support this student, put a smile on his face and bring more orange into his life. In the true spirit of UT, alumni, fans, and honorary Volunteers around the world have stepped up.”
As a college football fan, I can say without hesitation that more universities would do well to follow UT’s lead here – I might even be willing to say “Go Vols” this Saturday.
As long as they’re not playing my alma mater, I mean.