Vols rallies behind Florida student bullied for homemade UT shirt

The Vol Shop and other departments on campus put together a Volunteer Proud Pack that will be delivered to the student Friday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Vol Nation's support for a fellow Vol is truly powerful, no matter how far away they are. 

More than 650 miles away in the Sunshine State lives a young Vol fan near Orlando, surrounded by a sea of Gators. 

According to a Facebook post from his teacher, Laura Snyder, the boy wanted to represent the Vols on college colors day at his elementary school, but he didn't have a UT shirt. So he got creative, making his own by drawing a UT logo on a white piece of paper and pinning it on an orange shirt.

He proudly wore it to school, but things took a sad turn at lunch.

"After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on his desk and was 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," she 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."

Less than 24 hours after the post hit the internet, hundreds from Vol Nation were rallying to help. 

"The phone is ringing off the hook. We've got emails, we've got tweets, we've got phone calls," said Tommi Grubbs from the Vol Shop. 

"People in Florida have reached out to us, people in Knoxville have reached out to us. Everyone wants to help," she said. 

With the help of the Vol Shop and other departments on campus, the little Vol fan will be getting the surprise of his life. 

"We've all collectively come together and we're sending him what we call a Volunteer Proud Pack," said Jimmy Delaney with UT Fan Experience. 

The "care package" will have notebooks, a hat, jersey and signed football from head coach Jeremy Pruitt. 

Even Gus's Good Times Deli and Alumni Hall got in on it, too, sending the teacher some UT gear and school supplies for the student, and a message about bullying:

"We hope you have discussed the consequences of bullying with the children in your class because in Tennessee 'you mess with one of us- you mess with all of us." 

“I was touched to learn of a young Florida elementary 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 the University of Tennessee, and we will be rewarding his creativity with a ‘fan pack’ from Knoxville.” 

"I think he will go from making his own shirt to being the envy of the school," said Delaney. 

As for the rest of the kids in the class, the Vol Shop is spreading some Tennessee love to them with water bottles and bracelets. 

"That's what Vols do. We love our own and that's what's so special about being apart of the Vol community and really, really being a Vol for life. That's what it's all about," said Grubbs. 

The package is being shipped to Florida overnight and will be delivered to the boy Friday just in time for another college colors day. 

And that homemade design isn't going anywhere. The Vol Shop sent an image of the shirt to be printed, hopefully to hit shelves soon after it gets approval from licensing. 

Author: Amelia Young


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