Lexie Van Pelt attended Greenbrier High School band's Christmas concert Thursday.
But her daughter's chair on stage remained empty.
Band director Michael Katterjohn said a chair is always left open for Haley Van Pelt, 18, a senior clarinet player who was seriously injured in July in a single-vehicle wreck on her way to band camp.
An Atlanta-based driver training school hopes to teach young motorists how to avoid such accidents and help Haley's family.
Fear This Inc. will make a $1,000 donation for Haley's care if a class it is offering this weekend sells out.
"We will make a donation of some type no matter what size class we have," said Woodrow Gaines, president of Fear This Inc.
Lexie Van Pelt said Haley has received tremendous support from the family's church, and the Greenbrier band.
"She's doing well," Van Pelt said of her daughter. "She's taking baby steps, a little at a time. Not as fast as we would like. But it is all on God's time, not ours. We just really appreciate the support."
It took rescue personnel about two hours to extricate Haley from her car after she hit a tree off Hardy-McManus Road when she veered off the pavement and over-corrected.
She suffered potentially life-threatening injuries, including two skull fractures and resulting brain injury, her mother said.
Haley had lengthy stays at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Atlanta's Shepherd Center, which specializes in the treatment of spinal cord and brain injuries.
Physical, occupational and speech therapists visit the Van Pelts' home to work on Haley's recovery. The family continues to hope that she learns to speak and walk again.
"The brain just has to heal, relearn everything," Van Pelt said, adding that she and her husband, Bill, don't know the extent to which Haley will recover. "That's the hardest part, not knowing."
Health insurance takes care of most of Haley's care, but Van Pelt said the costs of day-to-day necessities for Haley's care not covered by insurance can add up.
Gaines said his hands-on course, designed and taught by law enforcement officials, will help other teen drivers and their families avoid the same fate.
The course provides the same information and experience received by police cadets in training.
"It is not trying to replace drivers education, but our kids are getting into situations (for which) they haven't been trained how to react or get out of that situation," Gaines said.
The course includes a classroom session at Greenbrier High on Friday evening and a 41/2-hour, hands-on driving session Saturday at Daniel Field in Augusta. A parent is required to attend with their teen.
"It is an education for both the parents and the teens," Gaines said. "The parents can see the teen's strengths and weaknesses. The parent is going to see the teen's confidence level go up several steps. In return, that gives the parents extra confidence."
The classroom portion is 7-9:30 p.m. Friday. If the classes fill up, Sunday sessions also will be available. Participants must have had a Georgia learner's permit for at least six months plus 30 hours of traffic driving experience or a valid driver's license.
The course costs $150 and registration is required.
For information or to register, call Gaines at (770) 823-7823 or visit wwwfearthis4life.org.
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