Video of boy in Amarillo looking for friends goes viral

A viral video of a bullied Amarillo boy who knocked on neighbors' doors looking for new friends has inspired the starting of a GoFundMe campaign that has gathered nearly $40,000 for the 12-year-old.

Shayden Walker, who lives in Amarillo, went door to door looking for friends in his neighborhood, according to the GoFundMe page set up by his neighbors Brennan Ray and Angell Hammersmith. They said that Shayden had been bullied and is having trouble finding friends.

One in five students reports being bullied in the U.S., as of 2019 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. More boys than girls report being physically bullied, while more girls said they're the subjects of rumors and are purposefully excluded by group activities, according to PACER, the National Bullying Prevention Center.

The neighbors shot a video of the boy knocking on neighbors' doors and asking if they had children his own age. It went viral on TikTok and has been viewed over 68 million times in less than a week. In the clip, Shayden, wearing a Jaws T-shirt, can be heard saying: "I just wanted to see if you knew any kids around like 11 or 12 maybe because I need some friends, really bad."

Shayden's mother, Krishna Patterson, told local news station KFDA that the boy has been hospitalized "because the bullying was so bad and he felt so isolated." Shayden told the channel that his confidence has gone "through the roof" since his video went viral.

When directed to a house next door with two kids his age by a neighbor, the boy said that "they're not my friends anymore because they're bullies to me. They keep bullying me."

TikTok users then suggested Shayden's neighbors set up a GoFundMe to help the boy, and the campaign has raised $37,257 in five days.

"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 GoFundMe page. Ray and Hammersmith added that the entirety of the donations will be given directly to Shayden and his family.

"He may raise enough to take a family trip," Ray and Hammersmith said. "Let's continue to show kindness to Shayden, and raise awareness for bullying and suicide prevention!"

The Ray family, who set up the GoFundMe page, disabled donations five days ago, saying they were "shocked and amazed by how everyone's shown up for Shayden." The neighbors will now "coordinate with his family" how to use the funds.

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