(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — A young boy who went viral for his homemade University of Tennessee T-shirt has been offered a four year scholarship to the school.
“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.”
The university also said that officials have spoken with the boy’s mother several times and that she “has expressed gratitude to the university and said the family has been deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world.”
The fourth grader’s story that inspired the design of an official school T-shirt garnered national attention on Saturday went viral and prompted a positive discussion around anti-bullying.
The unnamed Altamonte Springs, Fla., boy was bullied at lunch for wearing a homemade “U.T.” shirt during college colors week. His teacher, Laura Snyder, shared his story on Facebook and word quickly got to the university.
The university credited its alumni, fans, and “honorary Volunteers” who stepped up in response to the young boy’s story.
“More than 50,000 shirts featuring the boy’s design have been pre-sold by the VolShop,” the school said. “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 will begin shipping later this month.”
University of Tennessee chancellor, Donde Plowman, tweeted the news when the official campus store sold out of more than 16,000 T-shirts.
So proud of VOL nation today. More than 16,000 t-shirts ordered by 3 pm today, crashing the website which is back up. Giant shout-out to @UTVolShop who ignited this story. On every major network today showing what it means to be a VOL and step forward and act! #tennesseeproud pic.twitter.com/J42sY4ah7m
— Donde Plowman (@DondePlowman) September 10, 2019
Demand for the inspiring hand-drawn shirt was so high that the school’s website even crashed.
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
Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying, told ABC News that while she’s happy this will raise awareness of the issue of bullying, she’s most happy for the child.
“This little boy is getting his justice, and I’m so thrilled for him,” Ellis said. “You just can’t pick on a kid and think this is OK. For him to get his justice, is just like winning a peace prize, because no one is going to bully him anymore.”
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