SAN ANTONIO – A video of Somerset High School students gifting two pairs of new shoes to a special-needs classmate has gone viral, showing the world what holiday spirit is really about.
Students raised money to buy sophomore J.R. Gilbert the shoes after the teen, who frequently squeezes his size 13 feet into size 10 1/2 boots, told a classmate he needed bigger shoes. In the video on the Somerset Independent School District's Facebook page, which has been viewed more than 5 million times, Gilbert is seen unwrapping them in front of a big crowd.
"It's from all of us," says junior Roger Villegas tells an ecstatic Gilbert in the video. Everybody here gave 'em to you."
Villegas and two of his friends, Salvador Solis and Martin Ramos, were the ones behind the drive. Speaking with KSAT 12 on Sunday, Villegas said "We were just giving to somebody who needs help."
They got the idea after Gilbert told Solis in class that he needed bigger shoes.
"I told him (Villegas), 'Hey, let's start a fundraiser,'" Solis recalled. “’Let's get J.R. some shoes.'"
So the three football players sold candy to raise money. Between that and the cash they and others donated, they bought the shoes.
"Like it's Christmas, so I mean I think everybody deserves to have one of those Christmases where everybody deserves to be happy," Solis said, "and he's also our friend."
Gilbert's mom, Linda Gilbert, said he was wearing the too-small boots because they were his grandfather's, and he insisted on wearing them instead of his shoes that fit. While her son may not have needed the new shoes, Gilbert said that doesn't change what the other boys did.
"It's not about needing it," she said. "It's something he wanted, and these boys basically granted a wish he wanted."
They also got something in return -- the joy of giving.
"It really touched my heart. I mean I'm pretty sure it touched everybody's heart seeing somebody react like that," Solis said. "It's something special. It's something to remember."