Remember that story about the young University of Tennessee fan who made his own collegiate day T-shirt to support the school’s Volunteers and got teased for it?
Then his teacher’s post about it went viral and he got a bunch of UT gear — and his T-shirt design was made into an official UT product. Then he got offered a four-year scholarship to UT.
And now the UT marching band is wearing the shirt he designed! UT began selling the shirt, as it tweeted about in early September. The shirt is available on the university’s online store. All proceeds are going to STOMP Out Bullying, 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
Now, the college is making the shirt an even bigger part of its community. The UT band program, officially called the Pride of the Southland Marching Band, shared a photo on their Twitter account of the entire marching band wearing the bright orange shirts with the elementary school boy’s sketch.
Thank you Chancellor @DondePlowman for providing the shirts for the Pride today! Proud to support a young Vol fan and a great cause! Go Vols! #antibullying pic.twitter.com/2LuPgT2mde
— UT Bands (@potsband) September 14, 2019
Band members wore the shirt during a Sept. 14 home football game win (45-0) against the other University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
You can see UT chancellor Donde Plowman (at left) sporting one of the shirts in this image from the Sept. 14 game as well. According to the Twitter post, she was responsible for providing the T-shirts to the band. She is pictured below with UT’s interim president, Randy Boyd.
Over 50,000 of the fourth-grade boy’s shirts have been pre-ordered! And the school hasn’t stopped there — it’s also been expressing its support for the design all around campus. Earlier this month, an Instagram account that documents the Rock, a campus landmark, posted a photo of the Rock painted like the kid‘s shirt.
“University officials have spoken several times with the boy’s mother, who has expressed gratitude to the university and said the family has been deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world,” according to UT’s news page.
The young boy’s mom also penned a letter that his teacher later posted to Facebook, sharing her genuine shock and gratitude at the notes of support from everyone who has heard his story. In the letter, she wrote, “I can tell you that I spent a lot of my day reading all the kind words in support of my son and am touched beyond words. I know that he will be over the moon when he receives his UT Vols shirt and blown away by the support of all these people he’s never even met!”
Support for the boy and the positive spirit that has followed his bullying has spread far and wide.
For example, a Pennsylvania elementary school had all of its students wear orange on Sept. 12 in support of anti-bullying.
“Hundreds of our kids came in a wave of orange as we spread the hope for school environments built on kindness,” Winding Creek Elementary posted on Twitter.
Winding Creek stands with The University of Tennessee @UTKnoxville today as we proudly wore orange in support of the anti-bullying story they championed. Hundreds of our kids came in a wave of orange as we spread the hope for school environments built on kindness. @CVSDnews pic.twitter.com/pXTkjL0k8x
— Winding Creek Elementary School (@WC_WolfPack) September 12, 2019
This is such an amazing story that keeps unfolding! We love how everyone is coming together for such a great cause — all to turn the bad experience of one young boy into something positive.