Sometimes stories have happy endings.
In a rare break from the bleakness of the internet, a nine-year-old Australian boy has taken centre-stage at a major sporting event after a viral video of him captured hearts across the world.
Quaden Bayles led out an indigenous rugby league team in an exhibition match in Queensland against New Zealand Maoris.
Bayles, who has dwarfism, went viral earlier this week after a video of him crying at being bullied swept the internet. Celebrities quickly offered their support, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised as part of a campaign to send him to Disneyland.
The National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team invited Quaden to lead out the side for their match against the Maori All Stars on the Gold Coast.
In a powerful image that says a lot about the power of kindness, Bayles can be seen holding the hand of team captain Joel Thompson.
His mother Yarraka Bayles, who posted the original viral video, said at a pre-match news conference that Quaden was “going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life”.
In the six-minute video, she describes the relentless bullying experienced by her son every day, which was making him consider suicide.
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.
Every single… day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling.
Can you please educate your children, your families, your friends?
After the video was widely shared, Hugh Jackman was among the first celebrities to speak out in support.
No, *you’re* crying.