An assisted living center is probably the last place you'd look to find a 46-year old mother of five. But for Karen Waltman she's proud to call herself the youngest resident in the building.
"I hope I am the baby! I used to be the baby!" Said Waltman.
Karen's Multiple Sclerosis forced her to come to Avera Mother Joseph Manor seven years ago. It was her age that first stood out to nurse Cassie Bell.
"My first thought was oh my goodness! She is so young and I asked the nurse who was orientating why she was here and she told me and I remember asking somebody how to break the ice with her and they said walk by and ask her about Young and the Restless, she watches Young and the Restless and that was our very first conversation!" Said Bell.
From then on, Cassie and Karen have been nearly inseparable.
"The first year was rough but then it got better and then I met Cassie and ever since then we stay out of trouble together!" Said Waltman.
"We go everywhere, there isn't any place I don't think I wouldn't take her if she needed to go." Said Bell.
Karen came to the assisted living center to ensure she stayed on top of her rehab for MS. In doing so, she's been separated from her children. A mother herself, Cassie knew she had to do something.
"We have our mission here at Avera and we have the 'why we're here' and I truly believe that we are here to do what we can for other people and yeah I put myself in her place and I can't imagine not being able to see my children everyday." Said Bell.
So Cassie has gone above and beyond to make sure 10-year old Jacob and eight-year old Grayson, Karen's two youngest, have their mother in their lives.
"You know that's the way it should be, she's their mother and that will never change. Where she is, what she has to go through, the hand that God has dealt her, like I said I firmly believe that's why God brought here I really do." Said Bell.
Whether it's picking the boys up from school, organizing a sleep over in mom's room, or just watching a baseball game; being a family means the world to Karen.
"Everything, having the boys with me meant everything... Yes, they are precious to me." Said Waltman.
Nobody asked Cassie to take on this role, but whatever the need, whenever the time, she's ready and willing to help out a fellow mother and someone she calls a kindred spirit.
"I do it because that's the way it should be, you should do what you can for your friends." Said Bell.
"She's wonderful! She's my angel!" Said Waltman.