Tripp Halstead opened his eyes Wednesday for the first time in almost 10 days, as doctors delivered a few magic words to the family of the Winder toddler battling for his life.
Halstead, 2, was critically injured last week when a large tree branch fell on his head while he played outside his Barrow County daycare. After a touch-and-go weekend, doctors told family members that they are now “confident enough in Tripp’s condition” openly allowing for the possibility of his survival.
Tripp’s aunt, Crystal Condon, shared the news Tuesday on the Facebook page dedicated to updates, which had close to 50,000 fans as of early Wednesday evening. Condon told the Daily Post that the doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta stopped short of saying they expect her nephew to survive — but they’re no longer ruling out the possibility.
“They said he has a chance to survive,” Condon said. “We had not heard those words until (Tuesday).”
As Tripp continues to battle, “Team Boom” — which references the toddler’s affinity for fist bumps and accompanying sound effects — has grown and grown. Aside from a huge number of “likes” on the Tripp Halstead Updates Facebook page, the family has now heard from a number of celebrities offering words of encouragement.
Larry the Cable Guy, speaking as character Mater from the Disney animated movie “Cars,” tweeted messages directed at Tripp early Monday.
Not to be outdone, Owen Wilson — who voices Tripp’s favorite character, Lightning McQueen, from “Cars” — then left the family a voicemail. Country group Rascal Flats also reached out.
“Rascal Flatts (one of our favorite groups) just sent Tripp a message,” mom Stacy posted on Facebook. “That was so sweet of them. Thank you guys.”
On the local level, Auburn printing company Ham and Jam has had huge demand for “Team Boom” T-shirts.
Owner Jason Morris said that the small, family-owned business was contacted by a mother whose child goes to Tripp’s daycare. Within a few hours of posting their design for a shirt on Facebook, Ham and Jam had hundreds of folks preordering the shirts, which are red with a McQueen-inspired lightning bolt.
By the end of the day Wendesday, they had printed 500 T-shirts, some of which were being shipped to places as far away as New York, Arizona and Kentucky, Morris said.
“We’re printing around the clock,” Morris said. “It’s so crazy right now that I can’t really stop to answer one phone call.”
Shirts can be ordered at support-trip.org. About 80 percent of the $10 cost (everything but the cost of the actual T-shirt) will go to the Halstead family.
Tripp, meanwhile, opened his eyes for the first time Wednesday. Condon said doctors are still waiting for him to fully wake up from an induced coma (those drugs were stopped Saturday, but can stay in the system for several days).
The Halsteads’ only child has “reached his worst” and is on his way back up, Condon said, a far cry from Friday when doctors called the family in and said he had “zero chance” or survival.
A breathing tube may be removed this Friday.
Through it all, the outpouring of support online and in the community has been a godsend for the family, Condon said.
“It has been the only thing that has gotten us through it,” she said. “Any time we’re down we pull up that page and just read the stories and the love and the prayers.”
EVENTS AND FUNDRAISERS
• Saturday: Whata Cutie Cuts, 3480 Financial Center Way in Buford, will host a “Team Up for Tripp” fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Nov. 16: Community benefit concert featuring national Southern gospel artists at the Barrow County Leisure, 175 2nd St., Winder. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. for 6:30 p.m. concert featuring Crystal River, The Gobers, The Graham Family and ChoZen.
Admission is free, but love offerings for Halstead family with be accepted.
• Nov. 17: The Winder Lions Club will host an event with a silent auction, concession stands, jump houses and game booths. All proceeds will benefit the Halsteads.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lions Club, located at 354 E. Broad Street in Winder.
• “Team Boom” T-shirts can be purchased at support-trip.org.
• Donations can be made to the Tripp H. Halstead Fund at PNC Bank branches. Visit pnc.com for the nearest branch.
• Donations can also be made via ChipIn (http://tripphalstead.chipin.com/tripp-h-halstead); through the PayPal link on the “Tripp Halstead Updates” Facebook page; and by visiting teamboom4tripp.com.