Kaleb Klakulak found out that his best friend's mother couldn't afford to pay for a headstone, so he did odd jobs to raise money to give his friend a marked grave.
A 12-year-old boy managed to raise enough money to get his friend a headstone after he lost him to heart failure last year. In a heartwarming story that demonstrates the enduring friendship between two 12-year-olds, Kaleb Klakulak wanted to pay tribute to his friend, Kenneth "KJ" Gross, so that KJ's mother would be able to visit him during the holidays, according to the Detroit News.
Kaleb started out his funding effort by doing odd jobs and collecting deposit bottles to sell in order to raise money for KJ's gravestone. KJ had passed away on May 1, 2018, owing to a congestive heart failure. He had been fighting cancer since he was an infant. Kaleb, who hails from Romeo, felt moved to perform this kind gesture after discovering that KJ's mother, LaSondra "San" Singleton was unable to pay for a headstone, having quit her job to look after her ailing son.
Kristy Hall, Kaleb's mother, helped her son out with his efforts, setting up a PayPal account to help him receive donations. He was hoping to have enough money to get KJ a marked grave in time for the holidays. Kaleb managed to achieve his goal, and more, after sympathetic strangers sent him more donations than he needed. He plans to hand over it all to KJ's mom as she goes through this difficult time.
The Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield were generous enough to donate a headstone to Kaleb after the owner read about his selfless gesture. Kaleb revealed that he was "glad" to receive the donation, and was even happier to have the gravestone set up at the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit in time for the holidays. David Techner, the owner of Ira Kaufman, said, "The story really touched my heart. Here's this 12-year-old kid who saw a need and did what needed to be done. So I'm just following this young man's lead."
The Elmwood Cemetery also pitched in to help, and they waived their policy of installing new headstones only in spring by making an exception for Kaleb. The general manager Bonita Smith revealed that she had made an exception for Kaleb to grant him his Christmas wish -- for San to be able to visit her son during the holidays.
San has been overwhelmed with the support that she has received, even as she struggles to look after five children, and her mother suffering from Alzheimer's, while holding down her job as a school cafeteria server.
"I am very much overwhelmed and grateful," San revealed. "But I’ve had to relive it so much these last few days with everyone wanting to talk about it. It's hard. But my 19-year-old son reminded me what I said when K.J. passed. He told me, 'You said you wanted the world to know his story. When you ask God for something, sometimes you'll get it, but it won't be as easy as you'd like.' So I need to listen to my son."
San picked out a headstone that had an angel holding a heart on it next to an inscription that read "KJ Gross, cherished son, brother & friend." Monument Center Inc. in Ferndale was contracted to make the special Christmas gift for the grieving family. Mike Daniels, who was involved in making the gravestone, said, "I'm just happy to be a part of this. It's a wonderful story."
Kaleb and KJ had been friends since the second grade. When KJ developed heart issues after years of undergoing chemotherapy, he had to be hospitalized. But Kaleb went to meet him every week at the Children's Hospital. Every Tuesday they'd paint and play video games together in KJ's hospital room. Kaleb's desire to give his friend a tombstone met with overwhelmingly positive responses and eight funeral homes volunteered to donate the headstone he needed. All this, on top of the numerous donations he received and he plans to give to San.
(Michigan boy, 12, rakes leaves to raise money for gravestone of friend who died of cancer)— geopost 24/7 (@gooshi2000) December 10, 2018
Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth “K.J.” Gross had been BFFs since second grade before K.J. died in May of congestive heart failure after ye... - https://t.co/R1QtMmZhKT pic.twitter.com/JO7NG4eeZS
Kristy said of her son's generosity, "It's extraordinary to everyone else, but ordinary to me. I'm very proud of him. My mom would bring him the toy catalog at Christmas, and he'd come back and have toys circled for everyone else. My mom would say, 'no, tell me what you want.' Someone asked me if I was surprised that Kaleb wanted to do this, and I said, 'Absolutely not. Not even a little.' I am surprised at how this took off. It amazes me. It's a little surreal."