A California boy decided to raise funds to buy a brand new, customized wheelchair for his best friend, whose current wheelchair had become ill-fitting -- and his good will gesture has already exceeded expectations.
Paul Burnett and Kamden Houshan met in kindergarten. The two 8-year-old boys, who are headed for third grade in the fall, instantly became friends, their mothers told ABC News.
"They spend a lot of time together," said Jenny Burnett. "They talk every day and every Saturday. We do a family dinner so he sees a lot of what Kamden goes through."
Kamden was born with two tumors on his spine -- on the T2 and T3 vertebras, his mother Yvonne Houshan said.
The Poway, California mother of three added that Kamden, who is her youngest child, had to have surgery a week after he was born to remove most of the tumors. The surgery also left him permanently paraplegic. It's also caused several other complications, including scoliosis and issues with his bladder.
Since doctors couldn't completely remove the tumors, Kamden has check-ups every six months.
The boy's medical issues have also caused a financial strain on the family. Houshan, 36, had to take a year off from her job as a special education teacher to care for her son, who's set to have another surgery in August to fix a bladder issue.
Paul is more than just a friend to him. He’s like a brother.
"Normally I would just work, but since I work in special education, if I’m gone for a few months it throws a lot of our students off," she explained. "It’s better for them if I’m not there… and that takes money away [from the family] that I usually make. That’s the tough part."
So when she learned in June that her boy’s best friend decided to raise money so that he could get a new wheelchair, she couldn’t believe it.
Kamden would otherwise have to wait another two years to receive a new wheelchair from his state's insurance, as they only pay for one wheelchair every five years.
Burnett, 37, said her youngest son sees what his best friend goes through regularly.
"He’s witnessed Kamden fall out of his chair -- not only on play dates, but at school," the mother of four said. "It happened a lot, but we didn’t really know it."
After seeing a YouTube video on how to fundraise online, the Burnetts set up a GoFundMe page to help Houshan get a new wheelchair. They set their goal at $3,900, but they've already surpassed that goal. To date, they've raised more than $6,000.
"I still can’t believe it," Houshan said. "All of this is happening for us...for him?"
She credits Burnett and her family for the small miracle.
"Paul is more than just a friend to him. He’s like a brother," Houshan began. "But it's not just Paul. It's Jenny and her family. They're the biggest hearted people I've ever met. I'm so blessed God brought them into our lives."
Burnett said they plan to gift Kamden his new wheelchair in August, "because it's custom-fitted and it takes about a month to make," she said.
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