Quaden Bayles: More than £300,000 raised to send bullied schoolboy to Disneyland

More than £300,000 raised to send bullied schoolboy to Disneyland

A comedian has raised more than $429,000 (£331,000) after setting up a fundraising page to send a nine-year-old boy who is being bullied because of his dwarfism to Disneyland.

American Brad Williams, who has the same dwarfism condition achondroplasia, set up the GoFundMe page after seeing a video posted by Quaden Bayles' mother showing him in floods of tears as she picked him up from school.

The Australian boy can be heard saying "give me a knife, I'm going to kill myself" and "I want to die" in the video.

The footage has been watched by millions of people around the world and Quaden has received support from a host of high-profile names, including Hollywood star Hugh Jackman.

Williams wrote on the page: "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.

"I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland."

The page had an original target of $10,000 (£7,700) but has now reached more than $440,000.

Williams said any extra money that isn't spent on Quaden's trip of a lifetime will be donated to anti-bullying and anti-abuse charities.

"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," he wrote.

Bayles, who is Aboriginal Australian, has been invited to lead the Indigenous All-Stars out on to the field in their rugby league clash with the Maori All Stars in Queensland on Saturday.

The nine-year-old is also no stranger to the camera, according to his profile on a talent website, in which he says he has a "bright and bubbly personality" which "makes people laugh".

He added in the bio: "I embrace my uniqueness and inspire people to be happy and appreciate the simple things in life."

Also listed are his appearance credits, which shows he was the subject of an episode of Australian current affairs programme Living Black and has been interviewed for talk show Studio 10.

He is also the face of Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism - an awareness page set up by his mother, Yarraka Bayles.

Jackman, who starred in The Greatest Showman and Les Miserables, says in his message on Twitter: "Quaden, you are stronger than you know mate, and no matter what, you've got a friend in me.

"So, everyone let's please be kind to each other, bullying is not OK.

"Life is hard enough, so let's remember, every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let's just be kind."

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, also commented on the footage after it was shared on social media.

He wrote: "The cruelty is as astonishing as it is heartbreaking."

Quaden's mother Yarraka Bayles said: "We could never have dreamt in our wildest dreams that it would've gone worldwide and created such a media frenzy.

"There are way too many people suffering in silence and my heart goes out to those families that have already lost their children to bullying. It's an international crisis and it demands urgent attention."

Meanwhile, Sky News spoke to Gillian Alcantara, a social worker with the same condition as Quaden, who said she hoped the attention would begin an "open dialogue" and wouldn't just be a "five-minute wonder".

She said: "I think this is really positive, especially for Quaden. He certainly needs some empowerment. However, I don't want it to be a five-minute wonder.

"When all the dust settles down, I don't want him to have to go back to all that in his life because it's a seriously depressing video.

"He needs to be able to have a happy, engaging life and do what all his peers do."

Speaking about what could be improved, she added: "It's a matter of education.

"The school has a duty to safeguard their pupils, but it's not about fear, it's about educating the pupils that it's not acceptable behaviour.

"And if it doesn't stop, it needs to be challenged. He has the right to engage in education free from abuse."