Boy, 12, Raises Money Before Christmas to Buy Gravestone for Late Best Friend

Kaleb Klakulak did not want his best friend's grave to go unmarked during Christmas

Friends Gravestone-Michigan
Photo: Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP

In an act proving the power of friendship, a 12-year-old boy worked odd jobs around his neighborhood to raise enough money for a gravestone for his best friend, who tragically died of heart failure.

Kaleb Klakulak and his pal, Kenneth “K.J.” Gross, were best friends from Detroit who loved to spend their time painting and playing video games, according to WXYZ. Though they were only 12, the pair had already gone through much together since becoming friends in second grade.

K.J. had been diagnosed with leukemia as a child, and though he managed to beat cancer twice in his young life, he was hospitalized in January with congestive heart failure because of the side effects of his treatments.

“We packed up and we moved into the hospital,” K.J.’s mother, San Singleton, told the news station. “And everything that they did for K.J. thinking it would give him a better quality of life, it did the opposite.”

Kaleb visited the hospital often to see his friend, and Singleton said the visits were the highlight of her son’s days. Yet watching K.J.’s health worsen as the weeks went by was no easy thing for Kaleb, his mother Kristy Hall said.

Friend's Gravestone-Michigan
Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP

Kaleb Klakulak

“I was sad because I was going to miss K.J. because I love him,” Hall told WXYZ. “But I was also sad because my son was losing his friend, and my friend was losing her son.”

K.J. died from congestive heart failure on May 1, Detroit News reported, and he was buried without a grave marker — which typically run between $1,000 and $3,000 — because Singleton and the family couldn’t afford one. Singleton told the outlet that she left her job to care for K.J. after he was hospitalized, and has struggled to care for her five other children during this trying time.

When Kaleb found out about Singleton’s predicament, he knew he had to do something to help.

“I love Ms. San,” Kaleb told 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.”

So Kaleb went to work, raking leaves around his neighborhood and collecting bottles to raise money for a gravestone for his friend. He also took to social media to ask for donations.

Friends Gravestone Michigan
The gravestone Kaleb worked so hard to get for his friend. Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP

“(I did it) because I didn’t want (KJ’s) mom to go to an unmarked grave,” Kaleb told WXYZ.

Earlier this week, Kaleb was able to raise $2,500 for the grave marker, and — at long last —Singleton, Kaleb and his mom picked one out together. They hope it will be in place by Christmas.

“My son’s not here, but (Kaleb) still loves my son enough to (do) this,” Singleton told Detroit News. “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.”

While Singleton knew K.J. and Kaleb had a bond, she now knows how deep their friendship truly went.

“I knew that they loved my son when he was alive,” she said. “But I really really know that they love my son because even in his passing they’re still trying to help me.”

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