For the Westerville North High School girls lacrosse team, working together involves more than winning games this year: It's helping them raise money for a friend in need.

For the Westerville North High School girls lacrosse team, working together involves more than winning games this year: It's helping them raise money for a friend in need.

The team has been organizing fundraisers since the beginning of the school year to help a Westerville family purchase a new wheelchair lift-equipped van for a student diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), according to coach Rich Case.

SMA is a neuromuscular disease that progressively weakens the muscles.

"Our goal is to raise $40,000, and right now we're just under $20,000 for the year," Case said. "We came together at the beginning of the season and talked about doing something that would give back to the community, and the girls figured that with them being so active in sports, it would be nice to give back to someone who doesn't have that opportunity."

Money from the fund drive will go to Otterbein College senior Kelly Hanlin, a Westerville North graduate. Hanlin has been friends with senior team member Monica Craigmile since the two were young, Craigmile said.

"My mom was Kelly's physical therapist while she was at North and our families have been good friends," she said. "So far, to raise money, we've done a lacrosse clinic for a Big Walnut team, we've had donation tables at football games and wrestling matches and we've sent out letters to all the school administrators asking for donations."

Currently, the team is planning its largest fundraising event, the Wheels-4-Kelly Silent Auction, a dinner and silent auction that will take place from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Medallion Country Club, 5000 Club Drive. The cost is $25 per person, and tickets can be obtained by calling Case at (614) 330-5015.

More information about the dinner is available online at www.wnladylax.com.

Hanlin said the van her family currently owns has needed major repairs in recent months. She said learning of the team's efforts was extremely touching.

"Amazed and kind of dumbfounded would be good words to describe it, that they would even think to do that for me and my family," Hanlin said. "It's been incredible, the response from people and the preparation people have put into it."

Case said he is particularly proud of the team's volunteer efforts, considering how busy most of them are with other extracurricular activities.

"We have 35 girls on the team and almost all of them have helped out in some way," Case said. "And the girls that have been leading the fundraiser, they're all basically 4.0 students, and they're involved in a ton of other stuff with the schools."

Senior team member Casey Flynn said volunteerism was an idea that first-year coach Case brought to the team.

"He told all of us that it would be a good idea if we gave back to our community, and we brainstormed on ideas and came up with this," Flynn said. "We're part of National Honor Society and other organizations, so (the busy schedule) can get pretty tiring, but we've learned how to prioritize our time and learn better."

Hanlin said the community's willingness to give has been amazing.

"The team held a bowling fundraiser that I attended, and I think there were over 350 people who came to it," she said. "And a lot of people who weren't even in our group kept stopping by and asking what we were up to, and they ended up making donations as well."

Case said the team hopes to reach its goal by the end of the lacrosse season on May 12.