Lifestyle & Human Interest

8-Year-Old Starts $5,000 Fundraiser for Favorite Waiter's Family, Zooms Past Goal After Heartwarming Story Goes Viral


A GoFundMe started by a young boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, has garnered over $90,000 in support of a local Waffle House waiter whose family has been struggling financially.

Kayzen Hunter, only 8 years old, is a regular customer at his local Waffle House, where he and his family go for breakfast almost every weekend, Hunter’s mom, Vittoria Hunter, told Today.

There, they met Devonte Gardner, who Hunter has become especially fond of — and vice versa.

“Every time [Hunter] comes in, I always give him a high five because that’s what he expects,” Gardner told Today. “He’s a wonderful kid. He tells me jokes every time he comes in, like, ‘Hey, Devonte, I got a joke for you,’ and the next thing you know, we’re laughing.”

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“It got to the point where we always would sit in his section,” Hunter’s mom said.

“Every time we go in, he’s so smiley, he’s always like, ‘Hey, Kayzen, how are you?’” she said.

Over time, Hunter’s family has come to learn about Gardner and his family — a wife and two daughters — as well as their financial struggles.

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After being forced to leave their old apartment due to poor living conditions, such as infestations and health hazards, Gardner and his family were forced to stay at a motel.

“We wanted to find something affordable, so we moved into a low-income area,” Gardner told Today. “We just got tired of infestations with rats and roaches and all this black mold.”

He continued, explaining that his daughters were getting sick, and they often had no heat in the cold and struggled to stay warm.

“It was just horrible,” Gardner said.

However, when Hunter and his family found out that Gardner had been living in a motel for the past eight months, Hunter decided he wanted to do something to help.

“He came home and told me that, ‘Hey, Mom, Devonte walks or gets a ride to work, and I’m gonna start a GoFundMe,’” Hunter’s mom told Today.

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Eventually, she said she gave in and agreed to help Hunter raise the money.

They first started the GoFundMe on Feb. 18 with the goal of raising just $5,000 to help Gardner get a car.

“Devonte is a hard-working dad with two little girls and a wife. He is a dedicated worker and has to walk or get a ride to get to work every day. He was looking for a decent priced car, and his family was unfortunate and ended up in an apartment riddled with black mold. He had to get his kids out and it set him back a lot,” the GoFundMe explained.

“We are now helping him get into a clean rental property and want to help him even more by raising funds so he has a reliable vehicle to drive his family and get to and from work.”

“I hope your heart is as BIG as mine and you will help me spread kindness in the world.”

Since then, the fundraiser has gone viral, and they’ve garnered over $90,000, at this time of writing this article, with the largest donation being $2,000 from an anonymous donor.

“That’s the crazy part to us,” Hunter’s father, Korey Hunter, told Today. “I get it, but the goal was $5,000, and people do not care what the goal was; they keep giving and giving.”

Today also spoke with Gardner while he was on break during his morning shift at Waffle House.

He told the outlet that, thanks to the help from Hunter and his family, he was recently able to sign a lease on a two-bedroom apartment, and he’s also looking into getting his family a sedan or minivan.

He added, “I’m gonna save the rest because I want to put my daughters in a good school. I want them to be in a good environment.”

“Everything I’m getting is going mostly towards my daughters to make sure they have a great, great life. Make sure we won’t have to struggle anymore.”

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