A middle school boy’s tearful wish for friends has gone viral on TikTok after he walked up to a neighbor’s door to ask if they had kids his age he could play with. The exchange was caught on the couple’s Ring camera and posted to the social media app, where it has been viewed over 67.6 million times.

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Angell Hammersmith and Brennan Ray from Amarillo, Texas had a surprise visitor when the 11-year-old got up his courage to ring their doorbell. Ray (@brennanray) can be heard asking in the video, “What’s up man?”

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“Hi. I just wanted to see if you knew any kids around like, 11 or 12, maybe, because I need some friends. Like, really bad,” the kid, Shayden, says. It’s so heartbreaking to hear him ask his neighbor this, especially because of what Shayden reveals when Ray suggests a house up the street where he knows two kids his age live.

“Well, um, they’re not my friends anymore because they’re bullies to me,” the 11-year-old says.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ray said, “I could hear the innocence and vulnerability in his voice. All I knew is that I wanted to help the kid.”

Unfortunately for Shayden’s wish for friends, Ray and Hammersmith’s daughter is only two years old, which he tells the kid.

“Oh, OK that’s great. I love two-year-olds to be honest, they’re just the most cutest things I have ever known,” he says, telling Ray that he loved to play with his sister when she was that age. 

They have a polite exchange after that, and Shayden leaves, but that didn’t sit right with the young couple, who opened up a GoFundMe fundraiser to try and make Shayden’s summer — and raising nearly $40k in the process.

Donations were halted on the Friday after the fundraiser went up, with young Shayden’s parents saying that they don’t need any money. His stepfather, however, says that his son is a “totally different kid” now from what was seen on the viral video. In a post to his father’s account, Shayden says, “Y’all have touched my heart so much, it’s just literally to the point where I want to cry.”

Bullying is statistically at its worst when kids are in middle school according to the National Center for Education Statistics, with 26.7%-28.1% of middle schoolers having experienced bullying. 

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Commenters on the TikTok video and GoFundMe page were wholly supportive of the young boy, offering him well wishes and words of praise.

One man wrote, “Shayden, you are a strong kid. No one deserves to be bullied or made fun of. You are incredibly brave to be putting yourself out there and actively looking for friends instead of staying in the house. I know you are young, but the best advice I can give you is that you do not need anyone’s validation but your own to know your worth. If you love yourself, you will never be alone.”

“Bless his heart,” another TikToker said. “ Parents, teach your children to be kind. This sweet boy has a lot of kindness and love to give. 🥺❤️”

After the GoFundMe was closed, the young couple posted a follow-up video saying, “We’re thankful we’re able to do this for this young man and we’re thankful for y’all.”

They are making plans to meet up with Shayden. With any luck, the 11-year-old will have some new friends very soon and have a wonderful summer to remember.

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*First Published: July 11, 2023, 4:37 am