Brandon Bakke always wondered about his biological father, but by the time he asked his adoptive mom about him, he had sadly already passed away.
Though Brandon’s adoptive mother, Brandy Bakke, had some information about his biological mom, she didn’t know anything about the whereabouts of his dad. After a thorough Facebook search, Brandy was able to find Brandon’s sister Tiffany in Chicago. Tiffany was the one who broke the news that their father, Terrence, had died last year from a severe asthma attack at only 56 years old.
Though Brandon was devastated to find out his dad passed away before he ever got the chance to meet him, that didn’t stop him from doing something unbelievably beautiful in his honor.
He asked his big sis if she could take him to his father’s gravesite if he made a trip out to see her. Though Tiffany was happy to do so, she let him know that there was no headstone marking Terrence’s grave since the family didn’t have enough money for it.
This immediately sparked a brilliant idea in Brandon’s mind that has now grown into a bigger dream than he EVER could have imagined.
“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,” the 11-year-old told TODAY.
Brandon knew if he worked hard enough, he could earn the money to pay for his father’s gravestone. He began mowing lawns for anybody who would offer him the job, and he came back within a couple days with $175 dollars in hand.
When his mom kindly explained that the monument would cost more than that, he went right back to work doing other odd jobs until he had saved up $400.
But when his mom called up the gravestone company, Brandon got the SURPRISE of a lifetime. Touched by his story, they offered to give him the headstone for FREE! As an added gesture, they even told Brandon he could craft the design he wanted in memory of his father… Because he never knew him, he asked Tiffany for advice.
“She said he was always helping people and loved to cook,” Brandon said.
“After she said that, I knew exactly what I wanted to put on there.”
The monument featured hands holding a bowl of soup to represent feeding the needy with a heart that reads, “Forever in our hearts.”
Brandon made the trip from Fargo, North Dakota, to Chicago, Illinois, to proudly lay the stone in memory of Terrence.
Over a dozen of his biological family members traveled from across the U.S. to celebrate the special event with him.
“It was a very emotional day for Brandon,” said Brandy. “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.”
However, Brandon was far from discouraged by the momentous occasion.
“I always wanted to meet my dad and wish I could’ve before he died,” he said. “I know he would’ve loved to meet me and would be proud to call me his son.”
Now, his goal in life is to “make sure nobody goes unknown in life.” And you better believe this brave young fella isn’t just making this his life mantra—he’s taking action steps to see it fulfilled.
That’s why he started “Mowing and Blowing for a Purpose,” a lawn care and snow removal business that will raise money for other families who can’t afford a gravestone for their lost loved ones.
I’m so inspired by Brandon’s loving dedication to his dad and his empathy for helping other needy families across the nation. If he’s got a heart of gold THIS big at 11, I can’t wait to see the fine young man he is to become! ❤️