An online crowdfunding effort had collected nearly 40 times its goal to raise money for someone identified as a disabled boy with dwarfism in Australia. But across social media, it was increasingly unclear whether the person at the center of the attention — Quaden Bayles — was actually a boy or a grown man participating (or being used) in an internet hoax that had garnered more than 17,000 online donations totaling nearly $400,000 as of late Friday afternoon.
The GoFundMe campaign that initially only had an ambitious goal of raising $10,000 was flourishing after a video was posted to social media on Wednesday showing a boy — Quaden — crying in a car seat while the voice of a woman who said she is his mother said he was bullied at school.
“I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has,” the woman’s voice can be heard saying in a distinctly Australian accent.
Before the woman speaks, the boy can be heard crying: “Give me a knife—I want to kill myself.”
The heartbreaking video paved the way for the GoFundMe, which its organizer wrote was created in part to “send a wonderful kid to Disneyland!” and “to let Quaden know that bullying will not be tolerated, and that he is a wonderful human being who deserves joy.”
The video has even captured the attention of famous movie stars who have used their celebrity status to help raise funds for Quaden.
Somewhere along the line, though, it apparently became unclear exactly how old Quaden is, prompting some to suspect a hoax was at play. The social media rumor mill somehow got a hold of the idea that Quaden was actually an 18-year-old man.
However, Quaden has been in the news before on multiple occasions, including a TV clip on an Australian show called “Living Black” that aired back in 2015. The show said Quaden was four-years-old at the time.
That would make him either nine or 10-years-old.
That and other reports about Quaden’s life and age compelled the fact-checking website Snopes to declare the rumor of an inflated age to be false.
But the apparent truth didn’t get in the way of social media users having a big of ignorant fun at the expense of Quaden, who was set to have the last laugh once he and his family get presented with the money that was still being raised exponentially online.
The irony of a bullied child being bullied online by people who found out the child was being bullied apparently flew over the heads of social media users who expressed their true feelings about the matter. Scroll down to see a sampling of them below.
This one's for you little man! I was a victim of bullying myself and nearly took my own life but found the strength inside to carry on. Keep being the little champion that you are! The world is blessed to have you. #QuadenBayles pic.twitter.com/2B2Ixfk2Gv— Dale Hicks (@DaleHicks1) February 21, 2020