The five-year-old Australian boy was diagnosed with the most common form of dwarfism called achondroplasia when he was just three days old. He made news last year when his mother Yarraka discussed their campaign Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, which raises awareness and combats the stigma around dwarfism. Yarraka also opened up about Quaden’s health problems and multiple surgeries.
Yarraka has discussed the heartbreaking bullying Quaden has faced throughout his life. People wrote horrible comments online and even openly bullied Quaden in the street. “He sees people staring before I do sometimes,” Yarraka told the Daily Mail back in September. “Some people will judge him on his physical appearance and think otherwise, but they’re really not worth the energy. There are so many uneducated people in the world that it’s really sad that they don’t get to see the joy.”
This, obviously, was severely hurtful to the five-year-old. Quaden became angry and depressed and even said he wished “he was dead.” For years, nothing could help Quaden overcome the depression he suffered from the bullying: not his mom and not his professional counselor.
That is, until Quaden got Buddy. A friend of the family who also happened to be a veterinarian asked the Bayles family to take in the 9-year-old Shih Tzu and the rest was history. Yarraka said Quaden changed “pretty much overnight.” Now that his dog has dwarfism too, Quaden is confident and thinks having dwarfism is cool. “Buddy has made him accept it as OK, and that we’re in this together,” Yarraka told Today.
Quaden wouldn’t even let his family talk about dwarfism before they got Buddy because he was so insecure. But now that his new BFF has it too, Quaden’s proud of who he is.
“Quaden now proudly accepts that he’s got dwarfism, because Buddy’s given him that reason to think that it’s cool,” Yarraka told Today. “So he tells everyone, ‘My dog has dwarfism like me,’ and it’s the first time we’ve ever, in Quaden’s five years of life, heard him say the word, because we are not allowed to say dwarfism or achondroplasia.” Buddy hasn’t only helped with Quaden’s confidence, though. Yarraka said Buddy’s brought “joy and love” to the whole family. He’s also there for Quaden when he has to go to the hospital.
And now Buddy and Quaden are helping raise awareness for dwarfism together. Buddy’s the new mascot for Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism!
“Buddy has made things better,” Yarraka told Today. “It was divine intervention, definitely – the last thing that I would have expected or wanted, but it’s what we needed, and we’re so blessed. He’s just the perfect companion for all of us, but mostly for Quaden.”
If you’d like to help raise awareness with Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, you can donate or purchase fundraiser T-shirts here.
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