At one point, a single-story home tucked away off a back road in Royse City, had lost its holiday spirit.
56-year-old Terri Hoover says, at the time, she had no desire for a tree, didn't even want stockings or lights and definitely didn't feel like celebrating Christmas.
“Everybody’s excited and jovial and all the great things are happening during the holidays and then I have this gaping wound,” she said.
The day after Christmas in 2005, Terri’s oldest son, Jake, had just driven away in his Chevy Blazer after taking their usual Christmas family picture.
Jake was on the way to spend time with his dad when he lost control of his car. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was ejected. He died instantly.
“God, it’s like being punched in the throat,” Terri said while fighting back tears. “I punched the walls, I punched my husband, I lost my mind. How could that be?”
Terri says, for the longest time, she had this aching, this physical pain deep inside. Until one day, she decided that the best way to honor her son was to move forward.
“I just knew that couldn’t be me because it just wouldn’t honor my child,” she said. “He was so full of life and excited about everything.”
The next year, Terri started a foundation called Clickit 4 Life to encourage people, teenagers especially, to wear their seatbelts.
Every year Terri hangs billboards and talks to people about the importance of buckling up.
Terri says there’s no way to know how many people actually heed her advice...at least, she thought there wasn't.
Until at one of her presentations, a young man in the back of the crowd got her attention.
“He raised his hand and said, ‘Miss Terri, was your son’s name Jake?’ she said. On one of her billboards, the young man said he would see Jake every morning.
"That was powerful to me, to hear this kid tell me that because he saw that billboard he put on his seatbelt.”
At least one life has been saved and because of that, Christmas will be a little brighter for this guardian angel and his mom.
Learn more about Clickit 4 Life here.