A young Australian boy who's been bullied incessantly because of his disability is getting heartwarming support from none other than Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman is among the celebrities who've posted messages of support and admiration for Quaden Bayles, a 9-year-old with dwarfism who shared his agony in a Facebook video from his mother that went viral, with 23 million views since Tuesday. In the gut-wrenching footage Quaden talks repeatedly about wanting to die.
"Quaden, you are stronger than you know," Jackman responded in a message posted to Twitter on Thursday. "And no matter what, you've got a friend in me."
Jackmanin several movies. In the films and comics, the X-Men are mutants, an oppressed minority often seen as symbols for people disenfranchised in real life.
Quaden's mom, Yarraka Bayles, said she shared the video of her distressed son to show the impact of bullying. "I'm going to die right now," her son says in the video through hysterical tears. "Give me a knife, I'm going to kill myself. Give me a knife now so I can stab myself in the heart."
It's raw and real, and it's touched a lot of nerves. "The cruelty is as astonishing as it is heartbreaking," Mark Hamill tweeted.
It's also renewed the public discussion about bullying and its sometimes deadly impact. "Every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let's just be kind," Jackman wrote.
Other high-profile actors shared their support for Quaden, who was diagnosed as an infant with achondroplasia dwarfism, a genetic bone growth disorder. "For what it's worth you have taught my family so much," actor Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead) posted on Twitter. "You have inspired us, and in our home you are a hero."
And the good vibes extend to an MMA organization, which has offered Bayles free lessons, and to Australia's National Rugby League, which has invited Quaden to kick off an Indigenous All Stars game Saturday.
And there's more good stuff ahead for Quaden. Comedian Brad Williams, who has the same dwarfism condition, set up a GoFundMe campaign to send Quaden and his mom to Disneyland, and as of this writing, it's raised more than $300,000. "This isn't just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren't good enough," Williams wrote.
As cruel and unforgiving as the internet can be, the messages from GoFund Me donors and beyond are a reminder that it can also be a place of kindness and compassion.
"The world is better with you in it, Quaden," one donor wrote. Wrote another, "Let's fill this boy with joy and positivity!!!"
Originally published, Feb. 21, 10:27 a.m. PT.