8-Year-Old Boy Raises $100k for His Favorite Waiter

8-Year-Old Boy Raises $100k for His Favorite Waiter

The Hunter family has a weekend tradition of going to their Little Rock Waffle House for breakfast each morning. For 8-year-old Kayzen, it is one of the highlights of his day.

Most days, he’s there having breakfast with his siblings and parents. Sometimes Grandpa comes along to join the family.

When they step through the Waffle House doors, a friendly face is waiting there. Devonte Gardner is Kayzen’s favorite waiter. [1]

“It was about a year ago when [Kayzen and Devonte] met,” said his mother, Vittoria. “My dad started going, and Kayzen would go with him. When he came home, he always spoke about Devonte and how much he liked him.”

Gardner says the feeling is mutual. He has their usual order memorized at this point: scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns with cheese, no toast, and an Arnold Palmer. “Every time he comes in, I give him a high five because that’s what he expects.”

Gardner’s Living Situation Dramatically Changed One Day

Vittoria says they got to the point where they would just sit in Devonte’s section when visiting the Waffle House. “As we started to go more and more, we realized he’s just really a light in the world,” she said.

Devonte says that Kayzen is 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.”

Kayzen found out that Devonte was dealing with a difficult living situation one weekend morning. They’d had to move from their apartment because it was riddled with black mold and pests. Gardner didn’t have a car that could get him to work. [2]

“We wanted to find something affordable, so we moved into a low-income area,” Gardner said, describing the situation. “We just got tired of infestations with rats and roaches – and all this black mold. My daughters were getting sick. Neo heat and things like that.”

You can hear the emotion in Devonte’s voice when describing his family’s situation at that time. “When it was cold outside, we had to bundle up with four or five blankets just to stay warm,” he said. “It was just horrible.”

They decided to move into a motel instead of living in their poorly managed apartment. It was supposed to be a short-term fix but turned into an eight-month saga. That’s when Kayzen found out about Devonte’s story and wanted to do something to help his friend. [3]

Kayzen Asked to Start a GoFundMe for Devonte

Vittoria says it took her a while to decide to get the GoFundMe going for Devonte, but Kayzen was persistent about starting one for his friend.

“He came home and told me ‘Hey, Mom! Devonte walks or gets a ride to work, and I’m going to start a GoFundMe!’” Vittoria said. She thought the idea was sweet, but that nothing would come from it.

After agreeing to get things started, the initial idea was to raise enough money to get Devonte a car so that he could drive to work. Gardner admits that he talked to the family about the situation, but his plans to get something to use were on hold because of how expensive it was to live in the motel.

The Hunters posted the GoFundMe on February 18. They wanted to raise $500. It turned into much more than that. [4]

Although the fundraising efforts started slow, the goal has kept moving forward to reach over $100,000. “It’s exciting!” Kayzen said.

Vittoria says the experience has been fun, but all the attention has been a bit overwhelming for Kayzen. “He’s still eight,” she said. “The other morning, he said that he was just trying to make $5,000 to help Devonte get a car. Now, it’s turned into a crowd. We had no clue this was going to happen.”

“That’s the crazy part,” said Korey, Kayzen’s father. “I get it, but the goal was $5,000, and people do not care. They keep giving and giving.”

At the time of writing, the GoFundMe was just under $120,000.

On March 17, Vittoria posted that Devonte was finally able to get a family car. The generosity of everyone allowed them to get out of the motel and into an apartment. They’ve purchased furniture, clothes and toys for his daughters, and are now looking at ways to own a home.

It only takes one small act of kindness to change everything for someone. When love is the fuel that pushes people forward, anything is possible.



[1] https://www.today.com/food/people/boy-raises-money-for-waffle-house-waiter-rcna73309 ;[2] https://www.southernliving.com/waffle-house-arkansas-server-gofundme-kayzen-hunter-7254863 ;[3] https://www.thv11.com/article/life/heartwarming/8-year-old-raises-money-waffle-house-server/91-2a0e8da5-e9ea-49f8-9447-bb5321e18829 ;[4] https://www.gofundme.com/f/devonte-get-a-family-car