Michigan boy, 12, rakes leaves to raise money for gravestone of friend who died of cancer

Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth “K.J.” Gross had been BFFs since second grade before K.J. died in May of congestive heart failure after years of chemotherapy to fight leukemia.

Now, Kaleb, a 12-year-old Michigan boy, is working odd jobs to raise money for a special Christmas gift: a gravestone for his best friend.

K.J. was buried in a family plot at Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Kenneth “K.J.” Gross, left, and Kaleb Klakulak before K.J.'s death.

Kenneth “K.J.” Gross, left, and Kaleb Klakulak before K.J.'s death. (Kristy Hall)

However, K.J.’s mom couldn’t afford a grave marker, so Kaleb has been raking leaves, collecting bottles and soliciting PayPal donations on social media to help raise $2,500 — the cost of a headstone, as The Detroit News reported.

He’s raised $900 so far and given the money to K.J.’s mother, LaSondra “San” Singleton.

Kaleb Klakulak raking leaves in Rochester Hills, Mich., as he raises money for a headstone for his best friend Kenneth "K.J." Gross, who died of cancer last year. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP)

Kaleb Klakulak raking leaves in Rochester Hills, Mich., as he raises money for a headstone for his best friend Kenneth "K.J." Gross, who died of cancer last year. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP)

“I love Ms. San,” Kaleb told the news outlet. “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.”

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Kaleb with K.J.

Kaleb with K.J. (Kristy Hall)

Kaleb’s mom, Kristy Hall, helped him get started with the fundraising effort.

“I really think this is a great thing for Kaleb to focus on and help him with his healing as well as K.J.’s mom, who misses her baby and has to visit an unmarked grave,” Hall wrote in a Facebook post about Kaleb’s goal.

LaSondra Singleton holding a photo of her son Kenneth Gross Jr. while standing in front of a tree that was decorated in the child's honor at her Warren, Mich., home. Kenneth died at age 12 waiting for a donor heart that failed due to complications from cancer. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

LaSondra Singleton holding a photo of her son Kenneth Gross Jr. while standing in front of a tree that was decorated in the child's honor at her Warren, Mich., home. Kenneth died at age 12 waiting for a donor heart that failed due to complications from cancer. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

Singleton said she’s overwhelmed by Kaleb’s actions and love for her son, even after his death.

She said the boys “were kindred spirits; they were like brothers.”

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“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,” Singleton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.