Quaden Bayles, a 9-year-old Australian who was born with a genetic order that results in dwarfism, went viral after his mom shared a heartbreaking video of him reacting to being bullied. While the video initially resulted in an outpouring of support, a second wave of attention focused on whether the video was a scam and questioned his real age. The theory that Quaden is really 18 has since been debunked.
Still, many were moved to donate to the family through a GoFundMe page set up by comedian Brad Williams. The money raised — nearly $474,000 at this point — would fund a trip to Disneyland for the family.
While the family says they were touched by the support, they’ll be donating the money to two charities: Dwarfism Awareness Australia and the Balunu Healing Foundation, which supports indigenous youth in Australia, Quaden’s aunt Mundanara Bayles told the indigenous news outlet NITV News.
“What kid wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland?” she told NITV. “To escape to anywhere that is fun that doesn’t remind him of his day-to-day challenges. But my sister said, ‘You know what, let’s get back to the real issue.’ This little fella has been bullied. How many suicides, black or white, in our society have happened due to bullying?”
She added that seven kids have killed themselves in the last 10 years at the local school where she teaches, and the organizations they’ve set their sights on will know best how to tackle the challenges kids like Quaden face. She’s working with Williams to redirect the funds now.
In the heart-wrenching anti-bullying video posted last week, Quaden’s mother Yarraka Bayles sobs in the family car after another child at his school taunted him about his height.
“I wish I could stab myself in my heart,” Quaden says through tears. “I want someone to kill me.”
Yarraka says she wanted to share the video to raise awareness about bullying and get advice from other parents on how to deal with the effects, which have included suicide attempts by her son.
“I want people to know, this is the effect bullying has,” she says from behind the camera. “This is what bullying does. All it takes is one more instant, and you wonder why kids are killing themselves.”
Breaking down in tears, she adds, “I want people to know how much this is hurting us as a family … I’ve got to constantly keep my eye on him because of the suicide attempts.”
She also says in the video she hopes schools will do a better job of educating other kids about disabilities so that her son can be spared from the constant ridicule. She is leading efforts to enact “Quaden’s Law” on a national level, which would improve anti-bullying curriculum.