She should have been celebrating her son's 37th birthday, but instead Patty Wetterling was marking the 25th anniversary of the center for missing children that bears his name.
Patty started the center in 1990, a year after her son, Jacob, was kidnapped from St. Joseph in what is one of Minnesota's most prominent missing persons cases.
Jacob was just 11-years-old at the time, and Tuesday would have been that 37th birthday.
His family cut a cake to commemorate the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center on East Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports.
The center was created "to provide light and hope for families of the missing and exploited while working to prevent crimes against children," and held an open house to mark its anniversary, according to its website.
"We've done a lot of work and we just want to celebrate and acknowledge all of the families, law enforcement in the community for working together with us when someone goes missing," Jane Straub, a specialist at the center, told KARE 11.
Jacob was riding his bike with his brother and a friend on October 22, 1989, when he was abducted by a masked man who held them at gunpoint, before telling two of the boys to run off.
The 25th anniversary of his disappearance last year brought a renewed appeal and saw thousands of households across the United States leave their porch lights on in his memory.
His parents have never given hope of finding him, with Patty telling KSTP: "When you have a child, you make a promise that you will be there for them."