"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."
A Florida boy who was bullied over his homemade fan shirt has had his design turned into official college football merchandise.
The fourth grader, who is a huge Tennessee Volunteers football fan, wanted to show his support for his favorite team at his school's College Colors Day — but didn't own any official clothing.
Instead the excited youngster made his own by scrawling the college logo on a sheet of paper and pinning it to a plain orange T-shirt, which he then wore to school with pride... but was soon reduced to tears when some girls made fun of him.
"After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on on his desk and was crying," the boy's teacher Laura Snyder explained 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."
Ms Snyder used the post to ask if anyone had any connections at UT who could perhaps get him an official shirt to cheer him up — but what she got back was much, much better.
The story quickly went viral, garnering thousands of messages of support and cards from fellow fans, touched by the youngster's team loyalty and spirit. Once word reached the team, they sent him a huge care package filled with official Vols merchandise.
But better still, the University adapted his homemade design onto a special edition T-shirt for sale in the official fan shop, with proceeds going to an anti-bullying campaign.
"I don't even know where to begin. I am so incredibly amazed at the outpouring of love and support for my student!!" Ms Snyder — who is herself a Seminoles fan — wrote in an updated post. "So many people have reached out over the last 24 hours and I have truly lost track."
"I will never be able to tag everyone who made this possible, but please know that I am deeply grateful to each of you. You all have taken this above and beyond what I had ever imagined. The Vols fan base has really impressed this Noles fan with their kindness."
She added: "I am working to read through all of the comments and will share a few of them with my student each day. By the looks of it, he will have enough to hear every day for the rest of this school year. That's so awesome to me!! He is definitely a Vols fan, and the Vols Nation has made sure he will be set for college colors day for quite some time!"
Ms Snyder also shared a letter from the boy's mother, who described herself as "one upset mommy" when her little boy returned home from school with his design missing from his shirt.
"I am overwhelmed by the love I feel from this extended community and the pride I feel for my son 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 an inspiration for him throughout his life,' she wrote.
"Thank you to Ms. Snyder for taking the time to stand up for her student and for caring enough to do so."
The awesome shirt can be bought here for $14.99, with a portion of every sale donated to STOMP Out Bullying. Demand for the pre-order reportedly crashed the site once already.