DETROIT (RNN) - A 12-year-old boy in Michigan raised $2,500 through donations and odd jobs to pay for his best friend’s headstone as a Christmas present to the friend’s mother.
When Kenneth “K.J.” Gross died in May at age 12, he and Kaleb Klakulak, 12, had been friends since second grade.
K.J. was diagnosed with leukemia as an infant and fought the disease for most of his life, according to the Detroit News. He and Kaleb spent time watching TV and playing video games together, even after K.J. ended up hospitalized with congestive heart failure in January.
"They were kindred spirits; they were like brothers. Even their facial features were alike — the glasses and everything,” said K.J.’s mother, LaSondra “San” Singleton. "He was that ray of hope that K.J. needed when he was depressed. Kaleb was there even when K.J. couldn’t speak.”
When Kaleb heard Singleton was having trouble paying for K.J.’s headstone, he decided to step up and raise the money by doing odd jobs and collecting soda bottles. He also collected money through PayPal.
"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."
Singleton says she’s overwhelmed by Kaleb’s kind gesture.
"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,” she told the Detroit News.
According to Kaleb’s fundraising page, set up by his mother, Kaleb managed to collect at least $2,500, enough money to pay for K.J.’s headstone.
“He truly loved K.J. He will have a lot of friends in his life but no one like K.J.,” said Kaleb’s mother, Kristy Hall, WJBK reports.
Singleton says Kaleb and his family are helping her deal with losing her son.
“They’re amazing people,” she said. “When you just think that the world is in such a bad place and everybody is so angry and there’s so much hatred... they make you think of things differently.”