When William Gierke wore a T-shirt that happened to be one of his favorite colors, he didn’t expect to get made fun of, especially since the words “tough guys wear pink” were printed across the front.
Little did he realize that he was about to start off a surprising chain of events.
William is a 4th grader who likes the color pink.
In 2015, at the beginning of the school year, William, of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, went to school wearing a pink T-shirt. He was fond of his shirt until some of his classmates began to question his choice.
William informed them he was wearing the shirt because he liked the color pink. His classmates called him a “sissy.”
One day his classmates called him names because of the color shirt he wore.
He told his mother that he didn’t want to go back to school, something, which his mother, Tomi Genske, told TMJ4 has never been an issue before.
“It just struck me as odd that Friday that he sat there and was in tears,” she recalled.
But there was one person in his school who didn’t think it was a “sissy” move to wear pink, his teacher.
Following the bullying, William’s teacher, Dan Winter, wore a pink shirt every day for a week to show his support for the 4th grader.
William appreciated the kind gesture.
“It made me feel really happy,” William told TMJ4.
Winter and William took a picture together and shared it with William’s mother.
Genske said when she saw the photo of her son and his teacher she became emotional. She then shared it on Facebook as a way to thank Winter for wearing a pink shirt in support of her son.
“This started out as a way to help William feel safe at school,” Winter told TMJ4.
But once Genske posted the photo of the two on Facebook it became so much more.
No one could have predicted what happened next.
Shortly after the photo of William and Winter made its way around the community, local firefighters and the town’s football team wore pink in support of William.
One man, Craig Senglaub, reached out to Genske and together they created pink T-shirts for fan’s of the town’s high school football team. All of their proceeds then went Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund, which aids those battling cancer.
“I didn’t think that all this good would come from my son wearing a pink T-shirt,” Genkse told TMJ4. “To be able to pass the good on has been incredible.”