A desperate plea for friends turned a boy’s life around in an unexpected way.
Shayden Walker, 12, from Amarillo, Texas knocked on a neighbor’s door looking for possible friends. “I just wanted to see if you knew any kids around like 11 or 12,” he asked into the doorbell camera. “I need some friends like, really bad.”
He explained at Brennan and Angell Ray’s doorstep that he was having a difficult time having friends, that’s why he went door-to-door asking for possible playmates.
The Ray family didn’t have any children Shayden’s age. They directed the boy to another neighbor, but Shayden revealed that he was being bullied by those kids.
“He’s been hospitalized because the bullying was so bad and he felt so isolated. If you see it, just advocate for that person. Just be there for that person. Do not let that person suffer,” said Krishna Patterson, Shayden’s mom.
She said Shayden had lost his confidence because of bullying. “He flaps his arms and makes noises that a lot of people have made fun of him, so he told me, ‘I just deal with the pain of holding it in, so I don’t get made fun of because of it,’ and that hurt, that broke my heart,” she explained.
In the US, one in five students ages 12-18 has been bullied during the school year, according to the 2019 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. Bullying affects a student’s performance in school, they were reported to have lower scores in reading, mathematics and science than their peers. Because of bullying, about 160,000 teens have skipped school.
To help his cause, Brennan posted the video to TikTok and it quickly became viral, with over 70 million views and more than 171,000 comments sending love and support from all over the world.
One viewer commented: “Sending prayers for protection for Shayden, may the right ppl come into his life.”
Another wrote: “He is like my younger brother 🥺 I hope he finds some true friends and that he doesn’t continue to get bullied, no one should get bullied.”
The Rays created a GoFundMe page for Shayden and it has raised about $40,000.
“We are raising money to help buy him a gaming system, school clothes and hopefully some amusement park tickets and anything else he may want or need,” the neighbors said in the crowdfunding platform. “He may raise enough to take a family trip. Let’s continue to show kindness to Shayden, and raise awareness for bullying and suicide prevention!”
The donations have been disabled after a few days since it immediately surpassed its goal to collect $7,000. The Rays were overwhelmed with the response from people they didn’t even know.
“It’s really amazing how one small post can change people’s lives,” said Angell Ray.
“Not even just a post. A conversation because that’s what it started as, a conversation between me and Shayden when he was trying to make friends,” Brennan said. “I think that in this world we should just stop for a second and talk with people.”
Shayden will be forever grateful for the Rays. He now considers Brennan and Angell his family. “All I was trying to do was look for friends, and these lovely people came along. Now they have basically been the most important thing to me besides my mom.”
The viral post not only helped Shayden and his family financially, it also boosted his confidence. He sends a message to everyone, “How would you like it if someone were to bully you? How would that make you feel?”
Majority of the money for Shayden will be going to charity. The rest will be used to buy him new clothes, a gaming system and tickets to an amusement park.