A 12-year-old boy in Michigan is winning praise after he raised thousands of dollars to buy his best friend a headstone.
K.J. Gross beat cancer twice, but local reports said that six years later, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Gross died in the spring, but Kaleb Klakulak, the friend, wanted to honor him.
“I’m trying to raise money for his headstone,” Kaleb told Fox2.
Photos showed the two boys were inseparable since second grade until K.J.’s death. “It was fun because he liked almost everything I liked,” Kaleb said, CNN reported.
“I think they liked each other because they ‘got’ each other,” Kaleb’s mom, Kristy Hall, said. “They were both able to just be themselves and be together without having to impress the other one.”
— CNN (@CNN) December 11, 2018
The report said K.J. was diagnosed with leukemia as a baby and underwent surgeries throughout his life. “When he couldn’t go out and play, Kaleb would come to our house and play,” Singleton said. “They were inseparable from the beginning to end of their relationship.”
Every Tuesday, for months, he and his mother would visit K.J. when he was hospitalized, the New York Times reported.
After the boy’s death, his family couldn’t afford a headstone. But Kaleb found out and wanted to pitch in.
“He slowly started saying things like, ‘Mom, how much does a headstone cost?'” Hall recalled.
Kaleb began working odd jobs to raise money for the Gross family, and he also collected soda bottles, CNN noted. Hall even drove her boy around town to collect bottles before they would exchange them at recycling deposits for money.
Meanwhile, the boy set up a PayPal account in December, getting donations online. His goal was set for $2,500.
Some time later, Hall and Kaleb called over K.J.’s mom, LaSondra Singleton and handed her $900. The donations are still pouring in, and he plans on giving the woman the rest of the cash.
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“I cried because it was unexpected. I cried because I’m trying to figure out things from day to day,” Singleton told the network. “I can see his final resting place. I have a place I can go and be with him.”
“It’s a bittersweet thing because it’s finalizing everything for me,” she added. “I’ve wanted to get his headstone, but at the same time it’s making everything final for me.”
She also wrote on Facebook: “The funds have been provided for KJ’s headstone! We thank each and every person who donated and shared this story. We never dreamt it would take off like it did!”
However, Kaleb’s had a hard time.
“He’s not made another friend since,” said Hall. “I believe it’s hard for him because he’s afraid. He doesn’t want to lose someone else.”
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Kaleb said he was happy that people donated. “Honestly, I’m just proud of him for doing what he should do; what everybody should do,” Hall told the NY Times. “We should help people we love.”
Singleton, meanwhile, said she was unable to come up with the epitaph for her son.
But this week, Singleton said she figured out what the headstone should say: “KJ Gross, Cherished brother, son and friend,” she told the Times.