Boy gets headstone for family of late best friend he lost to cancer

Image 1 of 4

It was a bittersweet moment for the family of KJ Gross, the brave little 12-year-old who lost his battle with cancer in May.

His mother, who quit work to care for her sick son, had been unable to afford a headstone. His grave at Elmwood Cemetery remained unmarked until Wednesday.

"I know exactly where he is," said Lasondra Singleton, KJ's mother. "This is the first time I've been back since we buried him."

It's all possible because of KJ's best friend Kaleb and his Christmas wish. Last week FOX 2 told you about his efforts to purchase a headstone so KJ's mom could visit her son at Christmas.

"I'm trying to raise money for his headstone," said Kaleb Klakulak.

Kaleb was doing odd jobs and fundraising so he could pay for his best friend's grave marker. 

The story spread and this tale of boyhood friendship caught the attention of David Techner, a funeral director and owner of the Ira Kaufmann Chapel. Techner and his wife lost their own daughter nearly 42 years ago.

"It just touched me and the fact that Kaleb was willing to do what he did - it's just such a great gesture and such an act of love," said Techner.

Techner contacted his friend at monument center and Mike Daniels got to work right away to help make Kaleb's wish come true.

"It's a selfless act, a selfless story, you just want to be part of it," Daniels said. "It's the time of year to definitely want to be giving."

KJ's family decided on a youthful font and an angel that represents both boys and KJ's heart that lives on.

Even though Kaleb could not be there on this day with KJ's loved ones - they say he will always be part of their family.

"I love Kaleb - he just doesn’t know how he's blessed our family," said Lasondra Singleton. "They are kindred hearts, their spirits are the same and I believe that my son now lives through Kaleb."

Two boys with a bond that transcends even death - a friendship she hopes will inspire others in these trying times.

"There's so much anger and hatred going on," she said. "I hope the world can see that if two 12-year-old boys can connect like this
and you know that we can get over some of this hatred and some of this division. And I hope this helps."