Story at a glance
- Yarraka Bayles posted a Facebook live video of her 9-year-old son Quaden crying after being bullied at school for his dwarfism.
- After the video went viral, comedian Brad Williams, who was also born with achondroplasia, set up a GoFundMe to send Quaden and his mother to Disneyland.
- Quaden’s family said they would pass on the trip and instead donate the money raised to charity.
Within 10 days, a GoFundMe effort to send 9-year-old Quaden Bayles to Disneyland raised more than $400,000, blowing past its initial goal of $10,000.
And while it was more than enough for the all-expenses paid trip, Quaden's aunt, Mundanara Bayles, told NITV news the family isn't going.
"What kid wouldn't want to go to Disneyland, especially if you have lived Quaden's life. To escape to anywhere that is fun that doesn't remind him of his day to day challenges," Mundanara told NITV. "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."
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young people, and studies show a relation between bullying and suicidal ideation in adolescents. In the viral video, Quaden can be heard saying to his mother, “Give me a knife. I want to kill myself.” His mother said he has attempted suicide before.
"We need to come together and work out how to make sure young people like Quaden don't have to deal with what they have been dealing with," Mundanara told NITV. "We've had seven kids at the Murri School in Brisbane, where I am on the board, take their lives in the last ten years."
So instead of funding a trip to Disneyland, Quaden’s family has said they want all of the money raised donated to charities, including Dwarfism Awareness Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation. In a post on the GoFundMe page on Feb. 27, Brad Williams said he spoke with the family and had decided to donate about $66,000 ($100,000 AUD) to each of six foundations. Any remaining funds would go to Quaden's family.
“Bullies never win, and this fundraising effort shows that when bullies attack, communities stand proudly for what's right. Thank you for being a part of this global community of kind and awesome human beings,” Williams wrote in the post.
Quaden's mother Yarraka told NITV she is working on legislation that mandates building emotional resilience and working with those who demonstrate traits and patterns of bullying as part of school curricula. It's called "Quaden's Law." For now, she's working with government representatives and school administrators to develop a plan for Quaden, if he chooses to return to school.
“Quaden is ok. He is spinning out a bit, we just have to protect our boy as best we can. We’ve got a good team around us now," Yarraka said.