Sales of a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, T-shirt designed by a fourth-grade boy in Florida raised $952,101 for STOMP Out Bullying.
The young fan created the homemade shirt to show his love for the Volunteers. UT’s VolShop offered to print the boy’s design for him as a gesture of appreciation.
The response was overwhelming and far exceeded expectations. The VolShop sold 112,715 shirts for $14.99 per shirt in the three months they were made available. The official version of the shirt is no longer being produced.
The boy and his family requested that proceeds from the shirt be donated to an organization dedicated to the prevention of bullying. All proceeds from the university’s sale of the shirt—approximately $8.45 per shirt—will go to benefit STOMP Out Bullying.
“There are no words to express how grateful we are to the University of Tennessee for choosing STOMP Out Bullying as the nonprofit organization they wanted to partner with on the Volunteers T-shirt,” said Ross Ellis, CEO of STOMP Out Bullying. “We have always been an organization dedicated to spreading kindness and preventing bullying and cyber-bullying, and this extremely generous donation helps us to continue to make bullying history.”
Staff with the VolShop and apparel vendor Threds worked tirelessly for weeks to meet the incredible demand for the shirts. For a brief time, the VolShop website crashed because of the influx of orders.
“Our team has been honored to be a part of this special effort,” VolShop director Carol Miller-Schaefer said. “Threds is an incredible partner, and we greatly appreciate their hard work and dedication. The boy’s story inspired all of us.”
In recognition of the fourth-grader’s Volunteer spirit, the university offered honorary admission for him to join the Class of 2032. In addition, he has been awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning in fall 2028 if he decides to attend UT and meets admission requirements. The university will cover the cost of the scholarship separately from the funds raised through T-shirt sales.
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.
“This young man created his T-shirt because he is so proud to be a Vol,” Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “We’re proud of him, his family, and the thousands of people who showed that being a Volunteer is special—we lead, act, and serve others. The response to this message of kindness will serve a great cause for years to come.”
About STOMP Out Bullying
Created in 2005, STOMP Out Bullying is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to changing the culture for all students. It works to reduce and prevent bullying, cyber-bullying, and other digital abuse; educates against homophobia, LGBTQ discrimination, racism, and hatred; and deters violence in schools, online, and in communities across the country. In this diverse world, STOMP Out Bullying promotes civility, inclusion, and equality. It teaches effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying as well as educating kids and teens in schools and online. It provides help for those in need and at risk of suicide and raises awareness through peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements by noted celebrities, and social media campaigns. Learn more at stompoutbullying.org.
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This story is part of the University of Tennessee’s 225th anniversary celebration. Volunteers light the way for others across Tennessee and throughout the world.