A 12-year-old Michigan boy who'd been working odd jobs to raise money to buy a gravestone for his best friend is getting his wish, thanks to the generosity of a local funeral home owner.
Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth "K.J." Gross had been best friends since the second grade until K.J. tragically passed away in May from congestive heart failure after undergoing years of chemotherapy to fight leukemia, The Detroit News reported.
When Kaleb learned that K.J.'s mother, LaSondra "San" Singleton, would not be able to afford a gravestone for her son, the young boy was devastated and vowed to help her pay for one as a way to honor his late best friend. He had hoped to accomplish his fundraising goal — a lofty $2,500 — by Christmas, so he could give the headstone to Singleton as a holiday gift.
"I love Ms. San," Kaleb told The Detroit News. "I was sad she couldn't afford it. I wanted people to be able to find (K.J.'s grave) when they went to see him."
With the help of his own mother, Kristy Hall, Kaleb sprang into action, raking leaves, recycling collected soda cans and asking for donations from kind strangers on social media via a PayPal account.
"I really think this is a great thing for Kaleb to focus on and help him with his healing as well as K.J.'s mom, who misses her baby and has to visit an unmarked grave," Hall wrote on Facebook of her son's quest.
Kaleb had collected nearly $900 when David Techner, owner of Ira Kaufman Chapel in Detroit, heard about the boy's heart-wrenching mission and decided to donate a headstone for K.J.
"The story really touched my heart," Techner told The Detroit News. "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."
K.J.'s mother said that throughout her family's ordeal, she has been overwhelmed by Kaleb's actions and love for her son, even after his death.
"(The boys) were kindred spirits; they were like brothers," she told The Detroit News. "Even their facial features were alike — the glasses and everything."
"It just speaks volumes to the type of people that they are, and it speaks to the type of person that K.J. was — he impacted people to where they want to do this for him."
The headstone, which bears the inscription "KJ Gross, cherished son, brother & friend" next to a drawing of an angel holding a heart, will be installed at K.J.'s gravesite in Detroit's Elmwood Cemetery on Wednesday.