12-Year-Old Boy in Detroit Raises Money to Buy Gravestone for His Best Friend Who Died of Heart Failure

Best friends Kenneth “K.J.” Gross, left, and Kaleb Klakulak. (Photo: Courtesy of Klakulak family)

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.

In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo, Monument Center, Inc. of Ferndale sand blaster Mike Daniels removes a rubber stencil from the granite face of the headstone of Kenneth “KJ” Gross, at the center in Ferndale, Mich. Kaleb Klakulak, a 12-year-old Michigan boy who’d been working odd jobs to raise money for a gravestone for his best friend is getting his wish, thanks to a funeral home owner’s generosity. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP)

“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.

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Jason Duaine Hahn