GOLD COAST, Australia (CBS) — An Australian boy who was severely bullied at school was on Friday invited to lead the Indigenous All Stars rugby league team onto the field for Sunday’s exhibition match.
Quaden Bayles, who has dwarfism, received an outpouring of support worldwide after his mother shared an emotional clip of him on social media.
In the viral video, the nine-year-old appeared distraught after a bullying incident at his school.
During a news conference on the Gold Coast on Friday, his mother Yarraka Bayles told reporters that when Quaden received the invitation, it was “the best day of his life.”
Bayles said, “He (Quaden) said it (being asked to lead the Indigenous rugby league team onto field) was going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life, so I think that sums it up perfectly.”
She also said that she hoped the video would create awareness for her son’s condition.
Bayles said, “We’ve always had amazing community support especially from, you know, the footy (rugby league) boys, they’re all his uncles, related to most of them, so they’ve always been there. But nowhere near the amount of support, we could never have dreamt in our wildest dreams that it would’ve gone worldwide and created such a media frenzy. I mean, just being contacted nonstop and people rocking up at our house and contacting every single person, it’s far exceeded anything we could’ve imagined.”
Indigenous Rugby League player Cody Walker, who is taking part in the exhibition match, said his team wanted to lift Quaden’s spirits.
Bayles continued, saying, “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare losing their babies and for me that’s my reality every day. That’s what I have to prepare for – the worst, because everything he is going through with his medical condition, the suicide attempts are very real and people don’t understand that. On top of that, being an Aboriginal boy with a disability, people don’t understand that it’s a double-edged sword. You’re discriminated against, you know it’s racism and then also discriminated against because of a disability, so it’s extremely hard, but it’s also strengthening, it’s brought a whole family together, strengthened us, it has brought a whole community together, it has brought, you know, the whole short-statured people of the world together in helping raise and make sure that he’s safe. So, our first priority is obviously his health and wellbeing and we’re trying to keep him as protected as possible. With going public, there are no pros and cons, so his safety and health and wellbeing is always our first priority.”
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