Bullied Tennessee fan with homemade ‘UT’ shirt offered 4-year scholarship

Bullied Tennessee fan with homemade ‘UT’ shirt offered 4-year scholarship
The University of Tennessee Rock is painted in honor of a Florida boy's homemade 'UT' shirt that went viral. (Source: WVLT/Gray News)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - The University of Tennessee extended an offer of admission to the fourth grader who designed his own UT T-shirt.

The university has given a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees in fall 2028, should he decide to attend UT and meet admission requirements.

UT said in a tweet that the Vol Shop has received more than 50,000 T-shirt pre-orders. The Vol Shop is the only official source for the shirt, with all proceeds going to STOMP out Bullying.

UT also wanted the public to be aware that there are other sites selling this design. They are not affiliated with the university and have no agreement with the student’s family or with STOMP Out Bullying.

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The Rock on the University of Tennessee's campus was painted to honor an elementary student in Florida who was recently bullied for wearing his homemade Vol shirt.

The Rock was painted days after a Florida teacher’s post about her student went viral and got the attention of Vol nation.

The mother of a young boy from Florida was shocked by the support of Vol fans, more than 650 miles away, after he went viral for his homemade Vols T-shirt.

The boy made headlines after his teacher, Laura Snyder posted a picture of his homemade Tennessee shirt to social media. He wanted to represent the Vols on college colors day at his elementary school but didn't have a UT shirt. The elementary student got creative and made his own UT logo on a white piece of paper and pinned it to an orange shirt.

In the post, Snyder said, "Last week, my elementary school participated in college colors day. When I told my students about this day a week before, this particular child came to me and told me that he wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt, but he didn’t have one."

Snyder said her student was "SO EXCITED" to wear an orange shirt, and when the college colors day came, she said she was surprised that he made a makeshift UT label for the shirt made out of paper.

However, Snyder said some other students had bullied him over the sign, and "He was DEVASTATED." Snyder said she wanted to get him a UT shirt and asked her Facebook friends if anyone had any connections with UT.

Little did she know that her request would get such a big response! The post had been up less than two days when the University of Tennessee responded. Vol fans rallied behind the young boy to show their support.

The mother wanted to send her love back to Tennessee, so she wrote a letter that was posted on Facebook.

"Last week was “collegiate” day at my son’s elementary school and he wanted nothing more than to wear a UT vols shirt. As some of you may know finding a UT Vol shirt on short notice in FL isn’t the easiest of tasks so the night before he came to me with his shirt design and his orange t-shirt so we found some pins and put together his Vol shirt. When he came home from school the next day his design was missing from his shirt. He then explained the story you have by now all heard. I was on upset mommy, but he even defended one of the girls that made fun of him (they have history). Then yesterday I received a call from his teacher Ms. Snyder telling me she had posted on her Facebook page a request for some UT items for him along with the story, and that it had taken off!

I can tell you that I spend 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!

I am overwhelmed by the love I feel from this extended community and the pride I feel for my son and for being a VFL. Every comment, item sent and action taken on behalf of my son will never be forgotten and hopefully will serve as inspiration for him throughout his life.

Thank you to Ms. Snyder for taking the time to stand up for her student and for caring enough to do so, thank you to UT and everyone involved in sending him the package, thank you to the kind alumni that paid for shipping and is hand-delivering it to the school and most of all thank you to all of Vol nation for seeing what we see in him every day.

We can't wait to see if they print his shirt and will be first in line to order one so we can all support Big Orange on game day, even our Gator fan!

With Love, VFL in FL

Jim Delaney, the UT Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Experience, said the post had been shared with them Sept. 5.

"As a marketing and fan experience guy, I absolutely loved the creativity that he showed there. And it got back to us and to the football team and to campus here, to the Vol Shop. And so we've all collectively come together, and we are sending him what we call a Volunteer proud pack."

Delaney added, “I think he will go from making his own T-shirt to now being the envy of the school.”

Snyder said she was thankful that her post received such a great response.

On Sept. 6, the Vol Shop announced on Facebook that it would be taking pre-orders for shirts with the boy’s design logo on them.

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