NRL stars’ ‘uplifting’ offer to bully victim
NRL star Latrell Mitchell and the Indigenous All Stars have extended an invitation to Aussie bully victim Quaden Bayles to lead the team onto CBUS Stadium on Saturday night.
The Indigenous All Stars posted a video message to the nine-year-old that has captured Australia's heart, inviting him to walk out with the other players before the annual showdown between the Indigenous All Stars and Maori All Stars on the Gold Coast.
The team, coached by rugby league legend Laurie Daley, reached out to Quaden, who was diagnosed with achondroplasia - the most common form of dwarfism, after seeing the heartbreaking message posted by his mother Yarraka Bayles.
Channel 9 on Thursday night reported Quaden and his mum have accepted the offer and will come into the team's camp on the Gold Coast.
The report claims Rabbitohs playmaker Cody Walker will host Quaden when he is welcomed into the team on Friday.
Quaden will also walk out hand-in-hand with Indigenous All Stars captain Joel Thompson when the team runs out onto the field on Saturday night.
Update from the @NRL on Quaden Bayles. At this stage, Cody Walker will bring the 9-yr-old into the Indigenous #NRLAllStars camp tomorrow, then on Saturday night, Quaden will lead out the team, holding Joel Thompson's hand. This is the power of the game. @9NewsGoldCoast pic.twitter.com/jby5hL7ipw— Dominique Loudon (@dloudon9) February 20, 2020
The offer comes in response to a Facebook video, which has been viewed 2.5 million times and shared by more than 65,000 people, posted by Quaden's Brisbane mum to show the impact bullying and online trolling has had on her brave son.
The video shows Quaden in hysterics, saying: "Give me a knife - I want to kill myself".
The NRL stars, led by South Sydney fullback Mitchell, who had earlier this year met Quaden, extended the offer to Quaden in a video which showed the entire squad offering their sincerest and warmest wishes to the Rabbitohs supporter.
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"Hey Quaden. How're you going Cuz? We just want to wish you all the best brother," Mitchell says in a video posted by the NRL on Twitter.
"We know you're going through a hard time right now. But the boys are here and we've got your back. We're here to support you bud.
"We just want to make sure that you're doing alright. And make sure that (you know) your mum's on your side and we're on your side. Just make sure you're just thinking the right things bud. Cos we want you around and we want you to lead us out on the weekend.
"It's going to mean more to us than it will to you, bud. Just make sure you're looking after yourself and hopefully we're going to see you in the next couple of days."
Even players from the Maori All Stars team have promised to embrace Quaden and try to cheer him up if he is able to attend the NRL All Stars match on Saturday night.
Love that the indigenous boys have reached out to the family and will be leading them out on Saturday night at the all stars. Will be sure to go find him and show some love as well ❤️ https://t.co/F0NGGPlGVT— Brad Takairangi (@Bradtaka_) February 20, 2020
It’s the type of news week to go home, lock your doors & hug your loved ones. But here is an uplifting story. The @NRL Indigenous All Stars have reached out to bullied 9-yr-old Quaden Bayles, inviting him to lead them out at Saturday night’s match at @CbusStadium @9NewsGoldCoast pic.twitter.com/NdAxuqtIuD— Dominique Loudon (@dloudon9) February 20, 2020
Much Love Quaden we are all behind ya my man - much love 💗💗💗— Wendell Sailor (@RealBigDell) February 20, 2020
Ms Bayles earlier said the family has tried to be as strong and positive as possible and "only share the highlights" of her son's traumatic fight.
But she has also admitted she constantly has to keep an eye on Quaden as a result of suicide attempts.
Ms Bayles said that while she used to tell her son to "just ignore it", from now on every time she was bullied she would be sharing a similar video, so that "hopefully we can make some changes, so that this doesn't happen to another family and hopefully we don't lose another young, innocent life to bullying".