In September, we told you about a bullied fourth-grader whose classmates at Altamonte Elementary made fun of his homemade University of Tennessee T-shirt on the school’s College Colors Day. That fourth-grader attracted the attention of the University of Tennessee after his teacher’s Facebook post went viral. The University was struck by the story and turned the DIY shirt into an official design and made it available for purchase.
The final numbers are in! 112,715 T-shirts sold. $952,101 raised for @STOMPOutBullyng. Thank you to the @UTVolShop, @Thredsinc, #VolNation, and to the fourth grader in Florida who started it all. See you in the Class of 2032! pic.twitter.com/qjVWDEvYYr— UT Knoxville (@UTKnoxville) December 11, 2019
University of Tennessee officials said they sold 112,715 T-shirts in three months. They raised $952,101 for “STOMP Out Bullying,” an organization the boy and his family requested to receive the proceeds.
It’s a fitting way to use the funds, considering the whole story began with the boy’s experience of being bullied.
“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. We discussed that he could wear an orange shirt to show his spirit. He told me every day leading up to it that he had an orange shirt that he was going to wear. So when the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt,” the student’s teacher Laura Snyder posted on Facebook.
“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.”
There had initially been questions and concerns about how the University might profit off a young boy and whether or not it was ethical, so it’s good to hear that a nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of bullying is getting financial support. It’s also great to hear that the University of Tennessee also offered the student a four-year scholarship covering tuition and fees if he decides to attend in the future.