JEFFERSON, GA. - As the interest in the ordeal of 2-year-old Tripp Halstead continues to grow, volunteers are now getting to work on creating a homecoming gift for him. Dozens of volunteers gathered at the family's new home in Jefferson Sunday to demolish most of the ground floor and re-create it for Tripp's comfort.
The boy was injured five months ago when a tree limb fell and hit his head during a storm. He's been through multiple surgeries as his parents post updates to more than 300,000 people following closely on Facebook. His parents said he is doing well, and could be released any day now.
"We're honestly so, so, so thankful that people have taken an interest," Tripp's mother Stacy said. "And that's why we have the demo day today, they want to help and they've fallen in love with him."
Doctors told the Halsteads to expect their son to use a wheelchair when he came home. They recently purchased a foreclosed home to be closer to family, and planned to renovate it to make it handicap accessible. They planned on a year-long job until a charity stepped in.
"To be able to get Bill and Stacy out of the hospital today and to see them smiling, I think all the volunteers could see that," Holly Ranney said. Ranney is the President of Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a charity that renovates homes for families with sick children.
They organized dozens of volunteers and contractors to get to work on an above-and-beyond renovation. Hardwood floors will replace carpets to make it easier for wheelchair wheels. There will be wider doorways, a rehab room and a special spot for Tripp's hospital bed.
Sunday was "demolition day," and the Halsteads struck the first blows to tear down the kitchen. They will leave the house and not come back until the project is finished in three months.
"Everyone will have to have a truckload of tissues on the day we reveal it, because [the Halsteads] are not going to believe it," Ranney said.
As for that all-important question, what day will Tripp be released?
"Even the doctors won't give us a definite day because every time we get close we have another setback. So they just sort of quit telling us," Stacy said smiling. "It changes not only day to day but hour to hour depending on tests, so as of right now we don't know."
In the meantime, the work on his new home continues.