Family of Bullied Boy with Dwarfism Says $474K Raised for Disneyland Trip Will Be Given to Charity
Generous strangers offering support to Quaden Bayles raised nearly $745,000 for the bullied Australian boy — and now, nearly all of that money will go to charity.
Quaden, a 9-year-old Aboriginal Australian with achondroplasia dwarfism, found himself in the public eye earlier this month after his mother posted a since-deleted Facebook video of him in tears saying that he wanted to end his life over relentless bullying, CNN reported.
After the clip went viral, Quaden received support across the globe — including from comedian Brad Williams, who set up a GoFund page to raise money to send Quaden and his mother to Disneyland.
“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,” Williams, who also has achondroplasia, wrote in a description of the fundraiser, which he said would donate any leftover money to anti-bullying/abuse charities.
Though the crowdfunding page has raised $474,924 — more than enough for flights, a hotel, food and Disneyland tickets for two — Williams said Thursday that Quaden and his family had “kindly declined going to Disneyland.”
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Williams outlined on the page how the funds would instead be allocated, and said that six different charities would receive approximately $66,000 each: Born This Way Foundation, STOMP Out Bullying, Dolly’s Dream, Dwarfism Awareness Australia, Gallang Place and Balunu Foundation.
Anything left over will go directly to Quaden for “direct medical help, education, accommodation costs, food to feed the family, and donating to additional charities of his choosing,” Williams wrote.
PEOPLE has confirmed with GoFundMe that its Trust and Safety team is “working closely” with Williams to ensure that all donations are properly distributed to the beneficiaries Williams listed on the GoFundMe page.
“Bullies never win, and this fundraising effort shows that when bullies attack, communities stand proudly for what’s right,” Williams wrote. “Thank you for being a part of this global community of kind and awesome human beings.”
Quaden’s aunt, Mundanara Bayles, told Australia’s SBS TV that while the prospect of a trip to Disneyland was exciting, Quaden’s mom, Yarraka Bayles, thought it was important to 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 told the outlet. “We want the money to go to community organizations that really need it.”
In the wake of Quaden’s viral spotlight, he’s received support from stars including Hugh Jackman, who tweeted a kind message of encouragement, and was also invited to lead the National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team onto the field ahead of a game against the Maori All Stars.
Quaden, who walked on the field hand-in-hand with team captain Joel Thompson, later told his mom he’d gone from “the worst day of his life to the best day of his life,” according to the BBC.
Despite the worldwide support, Quaden’s story was mired in controversy, as some questioned his mother’s decision to put the distressed boy in the spotlight, while others alleged that he was actually much older than he appeared (that claim was shot down by Snopes).
However, as multiple outlets pointed out, Quaden’s story was previously made known, and the boy has been profiled numerous times over the years, including on Today in 2016 as well as on Australian television when he was 4 years old.
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