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International celebrities have rallied around Australian boy Quaden Bayles, the nine-year-old at the centre of severe bullying over his short stature, with comedian Brad Williams’ GoFundMe reaching nearly $400k.
Quaden’s mum Yarraka Bayles, an advocate for Indigenous issues and disability awareness, posted a heartbreaking video of her son’s despair after he was taunted in a Brisbane schoolyard on Wednesday. Quaden expressed multiple times his urge to take his life.
The video has racked up 24 million views as of Friday and while local Indigenous communities and sports stars have flooded Quaden with support, international celebs have also been moved by the young boy’s struggle.
“A lot of my favourite celebrities are messaging me on Instagram, my favourite rappers,” Quaden told NITV in an exclusive interview.
US comedian Brad Williams, who describes himself as a “Part time dwarf” on Twitter has launched a GoFundMe Page to raise funds for Quaden and his mum to visit Disneyland.
The page had raised nearly $400k on Friday, Brad has reached out to Ellen Degeneres for help managing the campaign.
“The love you have shown is unbelievable. Thank you! Money donated will not be wasted! We have a team of people making sure everything is completely legitimate,” Williams said on Friday.
“We thank you for your generosity and patience while we make sure all this is done the right way.”
Australian actor Hugh Jackman also shared a video on his Twitter account, telling Quaden, “You’ve got a friend in me”.
New York based comedian Gina Brillon has donated and Fiji airways come onboard to donate flight tickets for the Bayles family to take the trip.
HuffPost Australia understand Air New Zealand has also offered flights.
“You have a bunch of friends out in the world you haven’t met yet,” said Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
“We’re here and we’ve got your back - it’ll get better. Kids can be horrible and that’s because their parents aren’t doing a good job.”
Indigenous Australian model Jony Berry told HuffPost Australia: “My personal message to Quaden would be that he has a friend in me, and that no matter his differences, he is exceptional and he is a warrior.
“That fight that he has in him and the things he’s already overcome... he is a true inspiration, not only to myself, but to all young people out there.”
The NRL’s Indigenous All Stars team has invited Quaden to lead them out this Saturday night at their game against the Maori All Stars on the Gold Coast. First Nations musician Mitch Tambo, who has been following Quaden’s journey over the past few years, will be performing at half-time on Saturday.
Yarraka Bayles expressed her thanks to the media on Friday.
Tambo told HuffPost Australia it was “heart-wrenching” to witness Quaden’s distress in the clip, and that he wants him to know “we all love him and he’s here for a real reason and real purpose”.
“It’s just so heart-wrenching to see any young person bullied to that extent where they want to inflict self-harm and declare that kind of self-hate,” he said.
“To see the young fella in that state, it’s just very, very sad and obviously to hear and witness the distress of the mother, it’s got that real sense of, ‘I can’t take this anymore, I need help and this is all too much to bear’ which is obviously understandable.”