KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You did a good thing, Vol Nation.
When word got out via a Facebook post from a teacher that a little Vol fan in Florida was bullied for wearing a homemade UT shirt to school, his fellow Volunteers were not having it.
An effort began to send the elementary school student not only an official Vols t-shirt and other gear, but even more, they wanted him to know that his fellow Tennessee fans had his back.
The Vol Shop, UT Athletics, and the UT Alumni Association put together a 35-pound box full of Big Orange goodies and overnighted it to a Vol fan in Florida.
Dale Brill got the box this morning and made a special delivery to the boy's school.
He first gave him a Vols jersey and a hat, then allowed the boy to open the box.
"He started peeling back layers of the box and it just kept going on and on," Brill said, noting it was very emotional for the adults in the room, including the boy's mother. He said a few tears were even shed.
"I told him, on behalf of Vol Nation and Pres. [Randy] Boyd, you need to know you are not alone," Brill said.
Brill said you could tell the boy, whose name we won't share at his mother's request, was a little overwhelmed but very grateful.
"To see the joy on that young man's face was priceless," he said, adding he was proud to be a part of it.
"I have to tell my brothers and sisters that bleed orange you've done a fantastic job. Regardless of what team you root for you should be able to love and be passionate about your team no matter what. I'm proud as I can be as alum that Tennessee showed the way," Brill said.
He also thinks this is something that will impact the rest of the boy's life.
"I want to let everybody know that you created a confident and bold Tennessee Vol who will never back down from showing his team pride," said Brill.
It was also a reminder for Brill, and maybe the rest of Vol Nation, about how important it is to support your team even in the tough times. Maybe especially in the tough times.
"Never give up, never quit. It's in our blood," he said. "Don't forget there's young men just a little bit older than this one working to make us all proud and we need to support them along the way."
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There's another great part of this story.
The student's homemade T-shirt design consisted of a hand-drawn UT logo on a piece of white paper pinned to an orange shirt. Now, the Vol Shop has actually taken his design and put it on a shirt!
The shirt is available for pre-order now for delivery in late-September. A portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold will be donated to Stomp Out Bullying. You may have to be patient, though. There was such demand for the shirt over the weekend that it crashed the site.