A stand-up comedian has raised more than $200,000 (£100,000) to send a bullied nine-year-old Australian boy with dwarfism to Disneyland after he broke hearts around the world.
Brad Williams, who has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Tonight Show, set up a GoFundMe page for Quaden Bayles on Thursday after the boy’s mother shared a video of him crying and saying ‘give me a rope, I want to kill myself’.
Mr Williams, who also has dwarfism, wrote: ‘I’m setting up this GoFundMe to let Quaden know that bullying will not be tolerated, and that he is a wonderful human being who deserves joy.’
As of Friday, more than 9,000 people have already donated to the page and raised a total of nearly 240,000 Australian dollars (£104,000 or US $159,000).
Quaden has received an outpouring of support from the public and celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Mark Hamill, Eric Trump and British Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.
The nine-year-old Aboriginal boy has since spoken out to encourage others to ‘stand up for yourself’ while his mother said he had gone ‘from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life’.
Comedian Brad Williams (pictured right) set up a GoFundMe page for Quaden Bayles (left) on Thursday after the boy’s mother shared a heartbreaking video of her son
Speaking to NITV in the wake of the viral footage, Quaden (pictured with his mum) encouraged others to stand up for themselves when face-to-face with a bully. ‘If you get bullied, just stand up for yourself and don’t listen to what they say,’ he said
‘I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland,’ Mr Williams said on the fundraising page.
‘This isn’t just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren’t good enough.
‘Let’s show Quaden and others that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it.’
Mr Williams, from California, said that if too much is donated the excess would be given to anti-bullying charities.
The US comedian, who is 4ft 4in tall, has appeared on TV shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Tonight Show and has been described as ‘one of the funniest, most in-demand comedians working today’.
It came as Quaden and his mother Yarraka appeared on indigenous Australian TV channel NITV today to thank the nine-year-old’s supporters.
During the interview, Quaden encouraged others to stand up for themselves when face-to-face with a bully.
‘If you get bullied, just stand up for yourself and don’t listen to what they say,’ he said.
The nine-year-old believes parents should educate their children about people with disabilities to prevent further bullying.
‘The parents should make their kids be nice to people with disabilities,’ he said.
Ms Bayles said her ‘strong’ son wants other people to know how he feels and no longer wants to ‘suffer in silence’.
‘It’s 2020 and bullying is at an all-time high and especially within our communities, people don’t understand that if you’re Indigenous, you’re already copping discrimination and racism,’ she said.
Describing the reaction to the video, Quaden’s mother said: ‘Not in our wildest dreams would we have thought it would go worldwide and created such a media frenzy.’
After Quaden was invited to lead out the Indigenous All Stars rugby league team, she said: ‘He said it was going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life, that sums it up perfectly.
‘His dream is to be a footy player. That’s not going to be a reality. This (on Saturday) is the closest thing for him to play football. That is enough for us.
‘He is very excited (but) he’s got to find his footy boots.’
Yarraka Bayles hoped her son’s video helped raise awareness about not only addressing bullying but also Indigenous suicide rates in Australia.
‘It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to lose their babies and that is my reality every day,’ she said.
‘I have to prepare for the worst because everything he is going through with his medical condition and the suicide attempts are very real and people don’t understand that.’
The mother, an Aboriginal rights activist, said her son has made several attempts to take his own life
Quaden’s mother Yarraka, who is from Brisbane, filmed her son (pictured together) crying in the car after she picked him up from school on Wednesday and publicly shared the video on Facebook
Quaden Bayles (pictured), a nine-year-old boy who said he wanted to kill himself after being bullied for his dwarfism, has urged others to stand up for themselves
What is Achondroplasia?
Achondroplasia is a disorder of bone growth that prevents the changing of cartilage (particularly in the long bones of the arms and legs) to bone.
It is characterised by limited range of motion at the elbows, large head size (macrocephaly), small fingers, and normal intelligence.
Achondroplasia can cause health complications such as interruption of breathing (apnea), obesity, recurrent ear infections and an exaggerated inward curve of the lumbar spine.
People with dwarfism have a normal life expectancy.
Source: US Department of Health
The video has sparked an outpouring of sympathy for the nine-year-old from members of the public and celebrities including Hugh Jackman.
‘Quaden you are stronger than you know, mate. And no matter what, you have a friend in me,’ the Hollywood actor said in a video posted to his Twitter account.
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, wrote that ‘the cruelty is as astonishing as it is heartbreaking’ after seeing the video on Twitter.
Boston Celtics basketball player Enes Kanter wrote on Twitter: ‘This is one of the hardest videos I’ve watched. No place in the world for bullies.’
British Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, who has won five Paralympic gold medals for Team GB, said the video was ‘completely and utterly heartbreaking’.
‘I’m in tears. We need no reminder of just how dangerous & devastating bullying can be,’ she said.
‘How can someone make anyone feel like this, let alone a 9-year-old?! Quaden, we’re all with you.’
Donald Trump’s son Eric also took Quaden’s side, calling the footage ‘absolutely heartbreaking’.
Australian boxer Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib has offered to help the nine-year-old with one-on-one boxing lessons to keep his bullies at bay.
The former featherweight world champion made the promise after seeing the heart-wrenching footage.
‘Just got off a FaceTime chat with young Quaden he is In really great spirits today, I also spoke with his mother Yarraka about offering young Quaden some one on one boxing sessions and she loves the idea,’ he wrote.
‘Looking forward to teaching this little champ some deadly punches.’
Quaden will also lead the Indigenous All-Stars out onto the field in their rugby league clash with the Maori All Stars in Queensland on Saturday.
They will take on New Zealand Maori Kiwis at CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
The nine-year-old was snapped with NRL star Latrell Mitchell, who donned a South Sydney Rabbitohs jersey after signing with the club for the 2020 season.
Quaden’s mother Yarraka shared the distressing video which sparked the outpouring of support after picking her son up from school on Wednesday.
The schoolboy, who has achondroplasia – the most common type of dwarfism – told his mother: ‘Give me a rope, I want to kill myself.’
In the video, which has been viewed more than three million times, Quaden also said: ‘I just want to stab myself in the heart… I want someone to kill me.’
Quaden also scratched at his neck and said: ‘I want to die… I want to scratch myself.’
Quaden is pictured with NRL star Latrell Mitchell. The nine-year-old will lead the Indigenous All Stars NRL team onto the pitch on Saturday
Ms Bayles shared the original video publicly on Facebook in a bid to raise awareness about the impact of bullying.
She said she normally tries to keep distressing moments such as this private but felt she had been left with no choice but to go public.
‘We try to be as strong as positive as possible and only share the highlights… but this is how bullying affects a nine-year-old kid,’ she said in the video.
At the start of the five-minute clip, Ms Bayles said: ‘I just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal and I want people to know this is the effect bullying has. This is what bullying does.
‘So can you please educate your children, your families, your friends because all it takes is one more instance… and you wonder why kids are killing themselves.’
‘This is the impact bullying has a nine-year-old kid who just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun but every single fricking day something happens.
‘Another episode another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling.’
As Quaden sobbed, Ms Bayles asked for help from anyone viewing the footage.
‘So is there any advice or support or anything that other parents have done?
‘I’ve got some good advice but I need more, I want people to know how much it is hurting us as a family,’ she said as her voice quivered.
The mother did not go into specifics about the latest bullying incident, but previously said her son was called a ‘midget’ by his class mates.
Ms Bayles said her ‘strong’ son wants other people to know how he feels and no longer wants to ‘suffer in silence’
‘You have friends, me included’: Fellow actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays villain ‘Negan’ in The Walking Dead, also reached out to Quaden on Twitter
Last year Quaden’s mother told the Courier-Mail that he first tried to kill himself three years ago when he was just six.
‘I was so shocked. I honestly didn’t think he would even know what or how at six years old,’ she said.
The mother, an Aboriginal rights activist, said her son has made several attempts to take his own life.
‘I’ve explained to him that once you go, there’s no coming back, you’re gone forever, but he still kept trying,’ the mother said.
She also said Quaden has been affected by the death of his grandfather and his younger half-brother, who was stillborn.
‘He thought if he went to heaven, then he’d be with his Pop and his little brother,’ she said.
She told the newspaper she was proud that she had spoken publicly about asking for help.
In a family message, Quaden’s mother Yarraka said she was meeting with the appropriate groups to take a stand against bullying
Father-of-two Jarrod Urquhart told Daily Mail Australia the ‘terrible’ video made him want to help Quaden and his family.
‘I’ve watched [the video] and thought: ”How can I help?”,’ he said.
‘Breaks my heart to see him so upset.’
Mr Urquhart suggested his sons, eight-year-old Cooper and two-year-old Carter, could become pen pals with Quaden.
‘They’re happy, go lucky kids. They love sport, they love people a lot,’ Mr Urquhart explained.
‘If they could help this kid somehow, so he doesn’t harm himself, feel alone.’
Mr Urquhart said getting a letter in the mail once a fortnight from his friends in Sydney could be one way to help Quaden.
‘[It’s] something to look forward to,’ he said.
‘It could be cool. If he had a rough day, his mate in Sydney wrote him a letter.
‘We could go up there and meet him somewhere. As long as it’s helping the kid’s life and helping him be happy.’
Mr Urquhart hopes Yarraka and Quaden see his suggestion and that the two families can be put in contact with each other.
For confidential support in Australia call Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14
For confidential support in the UK call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details