The family of a Murri boy will donate more than $600,000 to local charities after declining a crowdfunding trip to Disneyland.
Young Quaden Bayles, 9, who was born with Achondroplasia, the most common form of Dwarfism, was visibly distressed in a Facebook video his mother posted last week after he had been bullied earlier that day.
In it, he was in tears and wanted to kill himself: “Give me a knife—I want to kill myself”, he said.
His mother Yarraka decided to share the video to show what her son had endured since he was three years old.
American comedian Brad Williams, who also is a dwarf, set up a GoFundMe page on February 21, attracting almost $720,000 from 20,000 global donations for a trip to Disneyland.
He wrote: “The bullying was so severe … 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”.
However, Quaden’s Aunty Mundanara Bayles told NITV News that “while it’s a touching example of goodwill, the family will skip the all-expenses paid trip as they want to focus on the bigger issues at play”.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
“We want the money to go to community organisations that really need it. They know what the money should be spent on, So as much as we want to go to Disneyland, I think our community would far off benefit from that.”
“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,” Ms Bayles said.
“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,” she told NITV News.
Mr Williams announced on Friday that about $100,000 will be donated to six local charities with the remainder going towards “a fund for future medical and support expenses for Quaden”.
The charities Born This Way Foundation, STOMP Out Bullying, Dolly’s Dream, Dwarfism Awareness Australia, Gallang Place and Balunu Healing Foundation are the likely recipients.
The rest of the crowdfunding will go towards direct medical help, education, accommodation costs, food to feed the family, and for donating to any additional charities of their choosing.
“I have been in close communication with Quaden’s family and fully respect their needs and the needs of Australian First Nations people who are experiencing bullying and discrimination at extremely high rates.
“Because of this, I’ve decided that the donations will be best served going to charities focused on helping individuals affected by bullying and discrimination,” he wrote.
Quaden’s Law push for school curriculum
Meanwhile, Yarraka Bayles is pushing for a new law called Quaden’s Law to be introduced into state and national school curriculums.
“We discussed a care plan for Quaden if/when he chooses to return to school, or when we feel the time is right. We are working with the school to introduce an educational tools for schools package around disability awareness, diversity and inclusion,” she told NITV.
“It went okay … They were all very supportive in helping to move forward.”
Since Quaden’s story, he has gone from despair to “high spirits” as the family continued to just get on with their lives, according to Ms Bayles.
“It’s a bit overwhelming but we are doing good considering. It’s pretty full on but we are strong enough to get through especially with all the mobs support and unconditional love,” she told NITV News.
“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.”
His Aunty said: “He’s just an amazing kid that’s larger than life.”