Thousands raised as celebrities rally to support bullied boy
WHEN the heartbroken mother of a bullied boy shared a video online highlighting the affects of his ongoing torment, it immediately went viral both in Australia and overseas.
Not only have NRL footy players rallied behind young Quaden Bayles, 9, but so too have other celebrities including Australian actor Hugh Jackman, UK TV host Piers Morgan and American comedian and actor Brad Williams, who started a GoFundMe page for the bully victim.
"Quaden - you've got a friend in me," Jackman posted on Twitter alongside a 20-second video saying "bullying is not okay, period, life is hard enough".
"Quaden you are stronger than you know mate and no matter what, you have got a friend in me."
American comedian, Williams who like Quaden, was also born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, said seeing the heartbreaking clip of Quaden in hysterics, crying and begging to "die", "stuck a nerve with him".
Williams' condition has played a huge role in his stand-up comedy and television roles.
"His mother taped him crying, saying he wanted a knife to kill himself, and put it on the internet to show people the effects of bullying. This story struck a nerve with me," Williams wrote in an Instagram post on Friday.
"So I started a GoFundMe to fly Quaden and his mother to America and send them to Disneyland. I set the goal at 10k, as of now we have 18.5k raised! I love all of you," he wrote.
Wow. This is heartbreaking. Poor little guy. Hope he gets all the support he needs & deserves. https://t.co/WVVkurPKXn— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 21, 2020
The fundraiser has now more than doubled with nearly $50,000 being raised. The money left will be donated to anti-bullying/anti-abuse charities with Williams adding, "this isn't just for Quaden, but for anyone who has been bullied in their lives".
"Let's show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it. I have been in touch directly with Quaden's mother. So I will have their information to book the flights."
Yarraka Bayles had posted the heartbreaking short clip of her son on Wednesday to raise awareness of the affects of bullying.
It shows the youngster sitting in the back seat of a car in tears after facing yet another day of bullying at school.
"Give me a knife - I want to kill myself," he says, "I just want to die right now."
Ms Bayles explains she had just picked Quaden up from school, had witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and wanted people to know - parents, educators, teachers - "this is the effect that bullying has".
"This is the impact that bullying has on a nine-year-old kid that just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun," Ms Bayles said in the video. "But every single freaking day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling."
The Brisbane mum's post has since been viewed 10 million times and shared by more than 200,000 people.
CELEBRITIES' SUPPORT FOR QUADEN
Journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan shared young Quaden's video, describing it as "heartbreaking".
"Poor little guy. Hope he gets all the support he needs & deserves," he wrote on Twitter, while American radio host Dan Bongino said seeing Quaden in such pain "broke him".
"I thought I was a generally tough guy. I'm not. This video broke me. I cannot fathom the pain this young man has been put through. God bless all of the people who reached out to help him and his family," Bongino said.
I thought I was a generally tough guy. I’m not. This video broke me.— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 20, 2020
I cannot fathom the pain this young man has been put through. God bless all of the people who reached out to help him and his family. https://t.co/LstTqE59OS
NRL star Latrell Mitchell and the indigenous All Stars have extended an invitation to Quaden to lead the team onto CBUS Stadium on Saturday night.
The indigenous All Stars posted a video message to the nine-year-old that has captured the world's heart, inviting him to walk out with the other players before the annual showdown between the indigenous All Stars and Maori All Stars on the Gold Coast.
The team, coached by rugby league legend Laurie Daley, reached out to Quaden after seeing the heartbreaking video.
It’s the type of news week to go home, lock your doors & hug your loved ones. But here is an uplifting story. The @NRL Indigenous All Stars have reached out to bullied 9-yr-old Quaden Bayles, inviting him to lead them out at Saturday night’s match at @CbusStadium @9NewsGoldCoast pic.twitter.com/NdAxuqtIuD— Dominique Loudon (@dloudon9) February 20, 2020
Much Love Quaden we are all behind ya my man - much love 💗💗💗— Wendell Sailor (@RealBigDell) February 20, 2020
Channel 9 on Thursday night reported Quaden and his mum have accepted the offer and will come into the team's camp on the Gold Coast.
Quaden will also walk out hand-in-hand with indigenous All Stars captain Joel Thompson when the team runs out onto the field on Saturday night.
Australian professional boxer Billy Dib has also showed support, offering free training sessions to Quaden.
"Seeing this absolutely broke my heart," Dib wrote in an Instagram post alongside the video of Quaden in tears.
"No child should ever wish for death. This is terrible. Schools should be running classes about bullying and how to stop it. How many lives need to be lost before something is done.
"I would love to get in touch with the Bayles family and offer Quaden some boxing lessons."
Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston also spoke about the situation on Friday morning. "It doesn't matter if you have children or not, to see these images is heartbreaking," Thurston told Nova 96.9 Fitzy & Wippa.
"I commend the mother for filming this and raising awareness of what bulling does. We had Dolly from the NT a couple of years ago who committed suicide and now we've got a nine year old who's talking about the same thing. I think parents need to step up and start educating their kids on the effects of bullying."
According to SBS, Quaden has been removed from his Brisbane school - Carina State School - after just three weeks of classes. He will likely undertake home schooling, which he has done in the past.
Ms Bayles doesn't place any blame on the child involved or the school, saying they have "amazing support" systems in place, but these compounding incidents have finally taken their toll.
She is calling for more action to prevent further instances of bullying. She says a regular induction for new children, a school-wide address or even workshops to raise awareness about children living with disability.
News.com.au has contacted Carina State School for comment.