JEFFERSON, Ga. - He was a little boy with a big smile and Sunday, a crowd of about 500 people said their final goodbyes to Tripp Halstead.
The 7-year-old died suddenly Thursday, more than five years after a tree branch fell on him as he played outside his daycare center in Winder. Tripp suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to speak, but those who knew the little boy and his family said he still brought joy to those around him.
"He changed so many people's lives," said Katie Harrison. "I'm glad they were able to pay respects and have closure."
Harrison became close to the Halstead family when Tripp and her son, Hawk, were hospitalized at the same time at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. She said she has just texted Stacy this week to talk about summer plans when she learned the devastating news.
"Life is so fragile and so fleeting and I think that's part of what today was about was just remembering to care for the people you love, 'cause it could happen at any moment," said Harrison.
Over the past several years, Tripp and his family have shared the ups and downs of their journey through social media, garnering nearly a million and a half followers on Facebook.
"We promise to be open to you during our grieving," said Bill Halstead, Tripp's father, during the service. "Tripp passed away with Stacy and I in the room with him, the same way that he was born [...] he was never alone."
Many people who attended Sunday's service said they wanted to share their love with the family that has shared so much with everyone else.
"It certainly doesn't take the pain away, but you know they need the moral support," said Bryan Stusak. "They need to know that people do care."