The page was launched by comedian Brad Williams last week after Quaden’s mother 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.
“I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland,” Williams wrote in the GoFundMe page’s description.
The US comedian said the money would also cover the mother and son’s food expenses, and that any excess funds “will be donated to anti-bullying/anti-abuse charities”.
As of Thursday afternoon, US $467,370 had been raised, which equates to AU$707,096.
Williams has assured his Twitter followers that the funds will be allocated responsibly.
“Money donated will not be wasted!” he tweeted. “We have a team of people making sure everything is completely legitimate. We thank you for your generosity and patience while we make sure all this is done the right way.”
Since the video shared by Bayles went viral last week, there have been several other accounts purporting to be the fundraiser in support of Quaden, or even the nine-year-old himself. However Bayles has said there is only one account that is legitimate, and that people should be “aware of other fake accounts”.
Other celebrities have also thrown their support behind Quaden.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman 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.
Meanwhile musician Cardi B spoke out in defence of the nine-year-old after some critics claimed he was actually 18 due to social media photos that had emerged.
“I really don’t think that he’s lying on his age,” she said. “And just because there’s video of him flossing money and acting all gangster and acting all cool, it doesn’t mean that kids do not pick on him.”
The NRL’s Indigenous All Stars team 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, performed at half-time.
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.”
If you or someone you know needs help:
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Outside of Australia, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.