A fourth-grader who was bullied by his classmates for wearing a homemade University of Tennessee Volunteers T-shirt has since been offered a four-year scholarship to the school, on top of the university selling tens of thousands of the boy’s hand-made UT T-shirts through VolShop, the campus’ official store.
The Altamonte Springs, Florida boy, whose name was not released, was bullied during college colors week at his school for his hand-drawn University of Tennessee shirt. His teacher, Laura Snyder, shared the story on Facebook, which eventually made its way to university officials.
The boy’s design has now been printed onto an official school T-shirt, with over 50,000 shirts having been pre-sold by VolShop as of Friday, with demand for the homemade T-shirt being so high that the university’s website crashed.
“More than 50,000 shirts featuring the boy’s design have been pre-sold by the VolShop,” the university said in a statement. “All proceeds from the sale of the shirts will go directly to the charity Stomp Out Bullying. The university will cover the cost of the scholarship separately. Orders begin shipping later this month.” The shirts sell for $14.99 and can be purchased through the university’s VolShop website.
Carol Miller-Shaefer, the director of the UT VolShop, emphasized the impact of the situation in an interview with WUSA9.
“It really embodies the whole spirit of the university, the whole Volunteer spirit. I just feel like this has gone way past a shirt, way past the incident, that it’s really resonated in other ways with people,” Miller-Schaefer said.
“There’s literally articles about this shirt in any country you can think of, and I’ve looked at those and said ‘I can’t believe this.”
Beyond the shirts, the school was happy to welcome its future incoming student.
"In recognition of the fourth-grader's Volunteer spirit, the university has extended an offer of admission for him to join the Class of 2032," the university announced in a press release on Thursday. "In addition, he has been awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning fall 2028 should he decide to attend UT and meet admission requirements."