Boxer Anthony Joshua and footballer Jadon Sancho are among those who have sent messages of support to an 11-year-old boy who lost his finger while “fleeing school bullies,” the boy’s mother said.
Raheem Bailey was beaten by a group of children at school on Tuesday, Shantal Bailey said.
Ms Bailey, 28, said her son tried to escape from school but caught the ring finger of his right hand while climbing a fence, which later had to be amputated.
She said Raheem had been subjected to “racial and physical abuse” since he started secondary school at Abertillery Learning Community in South Wales in September.
The family has received a flood of support since Ms Bailey described her son’s plight on a GoFundMe page she set up last week to support his recovery, which reached more than £85,000 in donations by Sunday.
Anthony Joshua, Jadon Sancho and footballer Ashley Williams have sent private messages of support via Ms Bailey’s Instagram.
Ms Bailey said Raheem had also received messages from football manager Chris Hughton, pundit Gary Neville and Olympic BMX biker Kye Whyte.
US basketball player Gerald Green, who has built a hugely successful career with nine fingers, even made a call to speak to Raheem directly, she added.
Speaking to the PA news agency on Sunday, she said: “There are so many people here in different places who have been so generous and I didn’t expect what happened so I’m really, really grateful for that.”
Describing what happened to Raheem, she said: “When he climbed over he was wearing a ring and his ring was pinned to the fence and he snapped but also broke his finger.
“Basically, he ran away because he was so sick of being teased every day.”
Ms Bailey said her son was “really brave” and had been “in utter agony”.
“The whole time [he was] tell me, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry mommy. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t stay there, like why doesn’t anyone like me?
“These are things my child has to ask me all the time, even though it’s in pain: ‘Mom, why doesn’t anyone like me? Why? Why did you choose me?’”
As for him now, she said, “Occasionally he feels very down and I need to talk to him and make it clear to him that no matter what, I will be there.”
But she added that the support “really put a smile on his face” and “makes him lift his head.”
She said of the fundraiser, “He has an idea of how much it’s growing and he’s really, really happy.”
She also said the messages he received mean so much as people tell him “how strong he is and that doesn’t define him”.
“It was amazing because it’s like a different kind of lift, from ‘there you go, you see, there’s mean people, but there’s also a lot of nice people,'” she added.
“I’m really, really, really grateful and if there’s anything it can do, you know, raise awareness about racism, bullies, whatever.
“There are so many people who are targeted for differences that they have no control over, whether it’s a disability or not, whatever it is it can be addressed and things like that shed light on it. “
On the broader issue of bullying and racism in schools, she said, “Why would I send my kid to school as a punching bag?”
“I just don’t understand, something needs to be done, I think a conversation needs to be had.”
Tearfully, she said: “It’s difficult as a mother to have to tell your child that maybe people don’t like you because of your skin – not because you’re mean, not because you’re awful, but simply because of skin, into which he was born into.”
The Welsh Government said: “We condemn bullying and racial harassment in all forms and expect allegations and incidents of bullying and racism to be fully investigated by schools, with appropriate action taken to address the matter and prevent further incidents.”
A spokeswoman for the Abertillery Learning Community told Wales Online: “We are currently working closely with Gwent Police and the local authority to establish the full details of the incident.
“The welfare and safety of our students and staff remains of the utmost importance.”
A Gwent Police spokesman told Wales Online: “We received a report at around 1pm on Wednesday of an incident at a school in Abertillery in which an 11-year-old boy was injured.
“A meeting has taken place with several authorities and we are cooperating with the school as part of our ongoing investigation.”
PA have contacted Gwent Police and the Abertillery Learning Community.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/jadon-sancho-chris-hughton-gary-neville-ashley-williams-south-wales-b2084811.html Anthony Joshua is among sports stars supporting bullied boy who lost his finger