Support has been pouring in across the globe for a 12-year-old autistic boy after footage emerged online of him being brutally bullied and beaten.
The videos, which are extremely hard to watch, show the boy being repeatedly hit in the school bathroom, as well as being set upon by a group while outside campus. Unable to defend himself from so many strikes, the bullies can be heard hurling insults at the young man, Rayden Overbay.
The footage even caught the attention of MMA fighter and UFC star Conor McGregor’s training partner, Dillon Danis, who posted a supportive message on Twitter.
“This is very sad we are all here for you brotha, please tag anyone that knows him or his parents i would like to reach out!” he wrote, adding the hashtag, “#standwithrayden“
Speaking to KFOR, Rayden’s parents confirmed that their son was being targeted because of his learning difficulties. “It’s gotta stop, no matter what. Whether it’s my son somebody else’s son or daughter, it’s gotta stop,” dad Danny Overbay told the outlet.
Rayden’s mom, Scotlyn, added that she had personally witnessed her son being attacked.
“As you saw in the video, he’s always been bigger than everybody. I would witness kids when he was like 8 or 9 just walk up and punch him square in the stomach,” she said.
But Rayden is fighting back with the help and support of Bellator MMA fighter Justin Wren and the encouraging words of thousands posted to social media. Writing on Twitter, Wren announced that he would be providing the young man with an opportunity to train at a Brazillian Ju Jitsu academy so he can learn how to defend himself.
“Surrounding #StandWithRayden & his lil bro Brock with love & support!,” Wren wrote. “@BellatorMMA Champion @lovatojrbjj is gifting these two awesome young men with a scholarship to come train at Lovato’s school of bjj & mma to build confidence & develop character. Rayden LIT UP w/ his belt!”
Baker Mayfield, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns tweeted that it was “unbelievable that kids could actually be this mean and spiteful.”
“Shame on the parents of the ones picking on Rayden… these videos are hard to watch, and that’s only what has been caught on video,” he added.
Many other sports stars have been rallying around Rayden by offering words of support and by sharing anti-bullying messages with their followers:
A Twitter account appearing to be run by Rayden himself posted a message yesterday which read: “Hope everyone has a lovely evening. THANKS for all your continued support and kindness. I am very grateful.”
Last month, administrators at Yukon Middle School, Oklahoma, where the incident occurred, started investigating incidents of bullying on campus.
“First of all, we are appalled every time one of our students is involved in something like this our heart goes out to the kid and the families,” said superintendent, Jason Simeroth, according to Fox 25.
“The safety of our students is our first priority,” Yukon Public Schools added in a statement. “Yukon Public Schools is not at liberty to publicly disclose the students’ names nor any disciplinary actions taken. We encourage everyone to report threats of any kind to a district or school official, local law enforcement, or via the Oklahoma School Security tip line at tipline.ok.gov or by calling 855.337.8300.”
Keep Rayden and his family in your prayers as they continue to fight back against bullying!