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Winder boy has breathing tube taken out

Tripp Halstead continues to battle back from the brink of death.

The 2-year-old Winder boy's breathing tube was removed late Thursday at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, family members wrote on Facebook. It's arguably the most significant step in Tripp's recovery after being hit in the head by a massive tree branch while at daycare last week, but, for family members, one of the toughest.

Through Friday afternoon the toddler continued to struggle for breath -- but was doing so on his own.

"All you hear is him struggling for breath and a gurggling sound that reminds you of someone drowning," aunt Crystal Condon wrote on the "Tripp Halstead Updates" Facebook page. "We were at his side holding his hand, singing to him, talking to him, anything we could think of to calm him down."

Stacy Halstead, Tripp's mother, posted on the same page at about 3 p.m. Friday.

"Tripp is fighting so hard," she wrote. "He still has his breathing tube out so that is a good sign."

Friday marked the 11th full day since Tripp Halstead was at the Cribs and Crayons daycare in Winder when a large limb broke off of a tree, hit a fence and struck him in the head. His skull was cracked and brain surgery was performed after he was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Storms that day were connected to the same system that produced Hurricane Sandy.

Doctors and family members are still unsure about the severity of damage -- and the possible ramifications -- done to Tripp's brain, but physicians have said the damage spans both sides of the brain.

Condon told the Daily Post the family just wanted the toddler alive, even if he has issues for the rest of his life.

"We can deal with that," she said. "We just want him here."

Since his incident, Tripp has become an Internet sensation. More than 56,000 people had liked his Facebook page as of Friday evening, and folks from all over the country have posted their well wishes and prayers. A local printer has sold hundreds of "Team Boom" T-shirts to people throughout the United States.

On Thursday, the Dairy Queen restaurant in Winder held a percentage day. Standing lines stretched into the parking lot. Drive-thru lines caused traffic jams.

"We love you all and I know we say it on every post but please keep lifting Tripp up in your thoughts, prayers and well wishes," Condon posted on Facebook Friday. "The strength we are all drawing on is from all of you."

In addition to several other upcoming fundraisers (details of which can be found at facebook.com/TrippHalsteadUpdates), a motorcycle ride to benefit the Halstead family has recently been arranged.

The ride, sponsored by the Bethlehem Riders, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17, and depart from Bethlehem First Baptist Church. Bicycles and passenger vehicles are also invited to participate in the ride to Kennesaw State University.

There will be a $25 entry fee per rider, as well as $10 per passenger.

More information can be found on the Bethlehem Riders Facebook page or by emailing tripfortripp@gmail.com.