Ben White had lived in the area only a short time in July before bandmate Haley Elise Van Pelt was injured in a car wreck.
White, a Greenbrier High School senior, did not know Van Pelt well. But he was part of the Wolfpack pep band that filled the spectator area Thursday above the Augusta Aquatics Center.
"It was an honor to do it," White said. "It's the least we can do to come over here and lend a hand, to play for her."
Van Pelt, a member of the Greenbrier band and swim team, was on hand to be honored by both groups last week during senior night at the Columbia County swim championships.
The band played from above the pool. Swimmers, coaches and volunteers sported temporary tattoos bearing Van Pelt's initials.
Before the start of the meet, swimmers lined the deck as Van Pelt's parents, Bill and Lexie, rolled Van Pelt's specially outfitted chair onto the deck.
Van Pelt was introduced as a 10-year veteran of the CSRA Swim League and was given a small stuffed wolf by Greenbrier swim coach Jason Lucey.
The band then kicked off the meet by playing the national anthem.
"We said, 'Let's do something strong,' but we didn't want to do it so big that she felt uncomfortable or out of place," Lucey said. "We kept it normal, honoring her like we would honor any other senior. That's probably best."
Van Pelt started therapy at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital the day of the Columbia County meet. She has undergone in-home therapy since the end of 2009.
She will visit Walton three or four times per week, her parents said, and will continue in-home therapy.
Bill Van Pelt recently returned full time to his job at Savannah River Site. After Haley's accident, Van Pelt had taken off a few months as he and his wife, Lexie, stayed with their daughter and learned how to care for her. He returned to work part time in November.
Haley was driving to band camp in July when her car ran off the road and struck a tree. She has since been treated at the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, and at the Medical College of Georgia.
Throughout her rehabilitation, her friends have worked to help her.
For the first two weeks of school, Greenbrier band members visited homerooms soliciting donations to help offset Haley's medical bills and related expenses. The band and swim team also have raised money through car washes, dinners and bake sales.
Band member Elizabeth Edwards made Haley the subject of her senior project, creating a video book in which Haley's friends left her messages and told her they loved her.
The latest step was the appearance at Thursday's swim meet.
"I've never actually been to a swim meet," Greenbrier drum major Michael Bailey said. "It's pretty cool. I'm glad we were able to do this."
The Van Pelts regularly update the online journal chronicling Haley's progress. Visitors to www.caringbridge.org/visitprayersforhaley need only create a free account to follow Haley's progress and post thoughts.
In a recent journal entry, Lexie said a special recliner featuring heat and massage elements had arrived at the Van Pelts' house. She wrote that Haley had slept in the chair and woke to watch television.
The stuffed wolf given to her by the swim team was placed on a shelf by the television so that Haley could see it.
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