“This is the effect of bullying,” says his mom, Yarraka Bayles, as her sobbing child turns to bury his face in his seat.
The wrenching six-minute window into a daily reality for a boy with Achondroplasia dwarfism — a rare bone-growth disorder that makes Quaden shorter than other kids — prompted shock, dismay and an outpouring of support. It also caught the attention of someone who grew up with the same condition: California-based comedian Brad Williams.
Now Williams, a self-proclaimed “part-time dwarf,” has raised $225,000 and counting to bring Quaden to Disneyland, as celebrities, athletes and businesses join a chorus of encouragement for the boy.
“This kid was bullied to the point of tears just because he’s different,” Williams tweeted Wednesday, marveling that his GoFundMe campaign had raised $500 in 10 minutes. He said he’s in touch with the Bayles family to coordinate.
“He’s going to know there are wonderful people out there and that he is loved,” the comedian said.
“$2,500! We won’t stop!” Williams says he texted Quaden’s mother as the sum kept rising.
“$3,500! And growing!” the next message read.
Soon, the effort had blown past the $10,000 goal, and Williams said he was fielding more offers to help than he could manage on his own. According to Williams, wrestling stars wanted to bring Quaden to WrestleMania. Fiji Airways wanted to donate plane tickets. His phone was exploding, he said.
“I’ve heard from men, women, all heights, all races, all parts of the LGBTQ+ community, all political affiliations,” Williams updated his followers Wednesday. “Everyone is helping. What a truly wonderful thing.”
Extra money from the nearly 10,000 donors will go toward charities that combat bullying and abuse, he said.
Other celebrities have also been anxious to show Quaden that someone cares, as #StopBullying trends on Twitter.
“Quaden, you are stronger than you know, and no matter what, you got a friend in me,” the Australian actor Hugh Jackman said in a short clip.
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) February 20, 2020
The indigenous Australian rugby league team had a video message, too, for the boy who the BBC reports is Aboriginal Australian. ‘We’ve got your back,” one player says.
— NRL (@NRL) February 20, 2020
The head of a mixed martial arts organization, Chatri Sityodtong, told TMZ that Quaden’s family accepted an offer to go to Singapore for lessons that would leave the boy “bully-proof.”
“We are not suffering silence anymore,” Yarraka Bayles told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “There are way too many people suffering in silence.”
Earlier, in her Facebook video, she described how Quaden ran to the car “in hysterics” after taunting at school. Another student had patted him on the head and ridiculed his height, she said.
It happens “every single day” that Quaden goes out in public, she added in frustration.
“It’s the constant bullying, the name calling, obviously pointing out his difference,” she said.
Now, there are kinder words from people Quaden’s age.
Said 10-year-old Rocco in a video message from California: “I want to be your friend.”
— Jillian Barberie (@askjillian) February 21, 2020
Written by Hannah Knowles | Washington Post