ALL THIS boy wanted for Christmas was to honor his late best friend by giving him a headstone—and he did it with hard work, love, commitment, and dedication.
It’s been almost five months since Kaleb Klakulak, 12 years old, lost his best friend Kenneth “KJ” Gross, who succumbed to leukemia after years of chemotherapy. But not even death can impede their inseparable friendship as it is now engraved in KJ’s headstone.
LaSondra Singleton, KJ’s mother, described the boys’ friendship as “one of a kind.” The two shared the same interests. They were both quiet and sweet-natured.
“They were inseparable from the beginning to the end of their relationship,” Singleton said.
Singleton narrated that when his son could not go out to play because of his ailment, Khaleb would volunteer to visit them to their house or to the hospital to be with his KJ, who was diagnosed with leukemia since he was an infant.
“I would bring Kaleb down there once a week to paint and play games with him. The hospital kind of bent the rules a teensy bit for him so his best friend could hang out with him,” said Kaleb’s mother, Kristy Hall.
But in May, KJ’s battle with leukemia ended after years of fighting through a series of surgeries and hospitalizations.
Singleton and her family buried him in a family-owned plot at Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, but she could not afford a headstone because she quit her job to take care of KJ and her mother who has been diagnosed with early-stage of Alzheimer’s.
But Kaleb wanted a special memorial for his buddy, who was there when he was a new kid in town and was having a hard time making new friends.
In an interview with The Detroit News, Kaleb said he wanted people to be able to find KJ when they visit them.
“He slowly started saying things like, ‘Mom, how much does a headstone cost?‘” Hall recalled.
Driven by this special friendship and commitment, Kaleb started to raise $2,500 by doing household chores such as backyard cleaning and collecting scraps such as soda bottles from their neighborhood and exchanging them for cash at the local grocery store.
Earlier this month, Kaleb set up a Paypal account to raise more contributions and this was publicized through a Facebook page titled “Christmas for Kaleb Klakulak,” which called on the netizens to help Kaleb realize his goal of having a special Christmas by being able to provide his best friend a headstone.
This genuine act of friendship motivated the public to respond to Kaleb’s selfless call. Last week, Kaleb handed over a $900-cash to Singleton. Hall said the campaign had reached the $2,500 target and they are all set to give the rest of the money to KJ’s mom.
‘KJ lives through Kaleb now’
In her letter published on her blog called “KJ’s Heart,” Singleton expressed gratitude to Kaleb and Kristy for their compassion and willingness to help their family.
“You had and have a true friend in him. I hope the world learns the true meaning of friendship, love, sincerity, and humble togetherness through you and Kaleb,” Singleton said. “I’m so thankful for all the love and support that’s been shown by the world through Kaleb and Kristy Jo Hall.”
Kaleb did not only honor his best friend. He also helped alleviate the pain of a grieving mother who can now “see her son.” To date, KJ’s lawn has now been installed with a headstone with the text “KJ Gross, cherished son, brother, and friend.”
Take a look at the heart-tugging bond between these two best friends in the video below!