Boy, 11, mows lawns to provide gravestone for biological father he never met
Posted November 7, 2016
FARGO, N.D. — Talk about a meaningful summer job.
An 11-year-old North Dakota boy spent countless hours mowing lawns — all so he could purchase a tombstone for the father he’d never met, according to Today. All his hard work ultimately led him to family he didn’t even know he had.
With the help of his adoptive parents, Brandon Bakke set out to find out more about his biological father earlier this year. Brandon’s mom, Brandy Bakke, was able to track down Brandon’s biological sister — Tiffany — on Facebook in June, Today reported.
But the happy connection quickly took a sad turn — Tiffany informed Bakke that the father she and Brandon shared had passed away the year before after an asthma attack at just 56 years of age. Brandy Bakke thought it would be healing for Brandon to be able to visit his biological father’s gravesite, but Tiffany warned her there was nothing there to mark where he was buried because the family couldn’t afford a headstone.
When Brandy delivered the news to Brandon, he immediately came up with an idea.
“When I found out my dad’s grave didn’t have a stone, I got really sad and thought if I did something for him, he’d be proud,” Brandon told Today.
So Brandon gathered all the money he had — $175. When his parents told him it wouldn’t be enough, he remained set in his resolve to raise the necessary funds. So out came the lawnmower.
Brandon ultimately raised $400. But when he called a gravestone company and told the employee his story, the company offered to gift a gravestone at no cost, Today reported. They also told Brandon he could be the lead designer on the project.
“My husband and I were very proud of him,” Brandy Bakke told Today. “(We) were going to support him in any way we could to help make it happen.”
Brandon consulted with Tiffany to learn a bit more about his father before coming up with the design for the gravestone.
“She said he was always helping people and loved to cook,” Brandon told Today.
Last month, Brandon traveled to Chicago to see the finished product — unveiled at a memorial service in honor of his biological father. There he was able to meet members of his biological family — many of whom came from different states for the event.
“It was a very emotional day for Brandon,” his mom said. “As much as he loved meeting his biological family, who are all kind, wonderful and supportive, it saddened him to know he’ll never meet his dad.”
The whole experience has inspired Brandon to continue to do good — keeping the legacy of his father alive. He launched “Mowing and Blowing for a Purpose” with the intent to provide memorial stones for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.
“I know he would’ve loved to meet me and would be proud to call me his son,” Brandon told Today.
Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.