Photo: Amanda Hertel Stacy and Bill Halstead attended the Gwinnett Gladiators game on Saturday night. The game was a fundraiser for their son, Tripp, who was injured back in October after a tree limb fell on his head at his Winder day care.
DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators were matched against the Greenville Road Warriors on Saturday night for their last game before the playoffs.
Beside watching the men chase the puck on the ice, the crowds came for the Tripp Halstead Night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center and 8,674 attended the game. With each advanced online ticket sold, the team donated $5 to the family, who has recently had a lot to celebrate.
On Friday evening, Tripp left the hospital and returned home exactly five months since he suffered a traumatic brain injury outside his Barrow County day care.
"He has just impressed me so much," Stacy Halstead said after the first period. "Last night he did so good and today he's done so good. That's why we felt comfortable enough to leave him because he's done so great."
Halstead, 2, has battled bacterial meningitis, infections and had 12 surgeries since Oct. 29. With him doing so well at home, the Halsteads left Tripp in the care of Bill's mother, Nana.
"He was like an old pro last night," Bill said about the reunion on Friday night. "He came in, laid in bed and that was it. We were the ones panicking."
The two claimed they checked on their son almost every hour throughout the night.
"At least they sent us home with a monitor," Stacy said. "If not, I would have been literally standing over him all night to make sure he was breathing."
The past few months have been hard on the couple. It was one of the first times the two have gone out together for an entertaining evening.
"This is one of the first nights that we've come out together because we try to attend the fundraisers, but it's usually one of us," Stacy said. "We would love to personally thank anyone who has donated, prayed for us or followed us, which is impossible. At events like this, at least we can get a good chunk of thanks in there at one time."
Bill couldn't agree more. He energy of the community gives him that extra push when times are tough.
"It's just nice to come out," he said. "It's almost like a big cup of coffee for us. It energizes us -- it makes you feel great. When we come back home, we're refreshed and ready for him, even if it's been a bad night."
After the latest surgery this week, Halstead's family discussed a visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland for a second opinion if complications persisted.
"If he has a setback or something happens, they will be happy to look at him," Stacy said. "But as of right now, he's on the road to recovery, so we hope we don't have to make that trip."
His family planned to stay at the home of his grandparents while their new home is being remodeled by the Roswell-based nonprofit Sunshine on a Ranney Day. The family sold their Winder home to find one that was wheelchair accessible.