DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) -- When Cassandra Anderson moved to Decatur from Bloomington, her only family was her son Curt.

When Curt passed away in 2014, that left Anderson in a dark place.

Seeing her friend suffer, LSA assistant baseball coach Kevin Hinton made a simple gesture: How'd you like to come to one of our games?

If she couldn't spend the day with her son, at least Hinton could turn his team into her sons, even for just a few hours.

There the team dedicated the game to their new "Team Mom". They prayed with her and presented her with a special autographed ball. Little did they know how much that day would mean to Anderson as she went through her first Mother's Day without her son.

What happened next took that relationship to the next level: She was invited back the next year, and the next, and the next. Every season, even during COVID-19. Her house is now decorated with mementos of her new "sons" -- autographed baseballs, photos, memories.

Seniors now in 2020 like Mark Reed and Drake Nalley were years away from even being at LSA when the Mother's Day tradition started. But each senior class has passed it down and the program has no plans to stop anytime soon.

It's a relationship that has extended past one day a year: they stop and talk when they see each other around town. Anderson says she routinely prays for the players and their families as if they are her own.

Cassandra Anderson might have been family-less at one point during her darkest day, but now a simple gesture by a group of high school kids has helped the healing process more than they could have imagined.

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