12-year-old boy rakes leaves to raise money to buy a gravestone for a friend who died of cancer

Junie Sihlangu
Dec 10, 2018
12:44 P.M.
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Kenneth "K.J." Gross was only 13-months-old when his mother found out that he had leukemia. The baby got a bone marrow transplant from his sister but three-and-a-half years later he relapsed.


After a long battle with cancer, Kenneth passed away of congestive heart failure on May 1. His best friend, Kaleb Klakulak is now fundraising to buy him a headstone for his grave.

Kenneth "K.J." Gross, 12, and Kaleb Klakulak, 12, have been best friends since second grade. Due to Gross living with leukemia, the pair would sometimes watch TV and played video games in a hospital room.

The two children hung together until Gross took his last breath. His mother couldn’t afford a headstone and when Klakulak found out he vowed to get a gravestone for his friend’s unmarked grave at Detroit's Elmwood Cemetery.


For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. The preteen has been working to raise the money by doing odd jobs like collecting pop bottles and asking for PayPal donations on social media.

Gross’ mother LaSondra "San" Singleton is the bread-winner of her family of five children and a mother with Alzheimer's disease. Klakulak hoped to give the headstone to Singleton as a Christmas present.


He explained:

"I love Ms. San. 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."


Kristy Hall, Klakulak's mother, was the one who helped him set up a PayPal account. She also posted on Facebook: "If you have bottles or odd jobs that Kaleb can do to earn money he would greatly appreciate that.”


She added:

"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.”


So far, the preteen is about halfway to his goal of $2,500. Recently, Klakulak, his mother and stepfather, Jimmy Hall, surprised Singleton with $900.


The touching moment was captured on a cell phone video where Singleton was seen burying her face in her hands and crying before giving Klakulak a hug. After Gross’ funeral at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist, he was buried in a family plot at Elmwood Cemetery.

Donations for his headstone can be made here.


Matthew McDonnell, then-6, has been battling a stage IV Wilms tumor, which is a pediatric kidney tumor. The boy has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and trial immunotherapy treatments to try and beat his illness.

However, to show his selfless nature two years ago, the young boy hosted a hot cocoa stand called Matthew’s Miraculous Hot Cocoa to raise money for other children with cancer. His efforts raised $6,500 in two hours from more than 500 people.