Did you follow Tripp Halstead’s recovery on FB? Do you follow other sick kids?

For much of this year I have been following Tripp Halstead’s recovery via Facebook. I started following him because I saw him on my sister-in-law’s feed after she left words of encouragement for the family. Then I noticed my 70-something neighbor in Arizona was following Tripp as well.

And we are not alone. More than 796,000 other people have liked Tripp’s FB page and get an almost daily update of his condition through it. Often more than 300,000 of those people are commenting or talking about his parents’ entries with their friends on FB.

For those who don’t know, Tripp is a 2-year-old boy who was hit on the head by a large tree branch last October. He was critically injured and has been in the hospital trying to recover from brain injuries for most of this year. Tripp finally went to his own home this weekend. (See the story from AJC reporter Greg Bluestein here. There are photos and videos of his homecoming.) The Sunshine on a Ranney Day charity organized a complete remodel of the family’s home to make it work for his new condition.

The family also has a link on FB to their website for donations to help the mom be at home or in the hospital with Tripp.

It is fascinating that people who do not know the Halsteads, or other families with sick children, would want to follow the minutia of the child’s recovery and comment and send encouragement so actively to the family. Any marketer would go crazy to have similar numbers of fans or that level of engagement from readers

Now the catch to this medical FB trend is there are hoaxes. There are plenty of cases where somebody steals the photo of child, who may or not be actually disabled, and makes a meme or page for them. I guess with the idea being to sell those “fans” to a marketer later or to ask for money for the child. Here are two stories about these types of cases. The first story is from Mashable and the second is from a site about babies.

There are even pages on FB to raise awareness of these types of medical hoaxes.

I guess people could tell Tripp’s story was real because there were news stories about it and literally constant medical updates on the child.

So my question is did you follow Tripp’s updates on FB? Are you following other children’s updates? Why are you engaged by these pages? How do you determine if cases are hoaxes  — like the Down’s Syndrome child who didn’t think she was beautiful?

23 comments Add your comment


July 16th, 2013
4:17 am

Some of my friends follow his page. I see the updates when they hit my feed. I dont follow but do pray for him. I “like” any photo of child fighting cancer or US Military personnel. I would not advise giving donationsto folks via fb.


July 16th, 2013
6:50 am

Obviously I feel for this child and any other sick kid, but no, I’m not going to “follow” them. Just not interested in the day-to-day but always hoping for the best.

Busy Mom

July 16th, 2013
7:08 am

I didn’t “follow” him because I’m not in facebook, but I have been checking in in his progress. His family seems so hopeful and it’s one of those situations where you feel encouraged just reading what they post. They were so thankful during the reveal of their new house!


July 16th, 2013
7:12 am

With all due respect to others who enjoy it, I don’t waste time on FB, especially following the trials and tribulations of complete strangers.


July 16th, 2013
7:14 am

I’ve followed Tripp’s facebook page since day one, I’m encouraged by his parents faith, they have never asked for one cent and always are encouraging even in the worst of times and they do keep up with other kids and have help other families.


July 16th, 2013
8:14 am

I follow Tripp’s FB page. His parents seem like such “real” people, so easy to relate to. Tripp gets a lot of attention and his parents have said multiple times that they would trade every bit of that attention to have Tripp back the way he was before the accident. I feel like they put a face to other families who are in similar situations.


July 16th, 2013
8:25 am

I don’t follow him directly (the mom rambles too much for my taste) but I see the posts in my news feed due to other friends commenting and following and sometimes I’ll read the first couple of sentences or sometimes I’ll catch an update on ajc.

I am probably going to get grilled for saying this but after all that child has been through, I wonder if it will be worth it? It’s doubtful he’ll ever live a normal life let alone walk or talk. I’ve seen snippets where the mom talks about how uncomfortable he is and having to give him medication to calm him down. I can’t imagine the loss of a child and hope I never do, but where’s his quality of life? The poor boy has gone through so much and it is terribly sad, don’t get me wrong but do they believe he’ll fully recover or even recover enough to live a semi-normal life?


July 16th, 2013
8:50 am

I do not follow but when things pop up, I say a prayer. There are lots of people out there with good hearts who are pulling/praying for the little fellow.

As a teacher, I often realize how quickly things can happen ( with children) and this was one of those very unfortunate things. His family does seem very nice. I cannot fathom the situation.

I had a baby with a birth injury and we were in turmoil for 6 months. The situation was not nearly as severe. We are blessed that our daughter regained most use of her paralyzed arm. Most people cannot even tell there ever was a problem. I do believe in the power of prayer and praying is certainly something I can do.

I am amused at those who belittle prayer and yet, when a crisis occurs…that is really what we can do as we have no other way to turn things around. I am thankful I have witnessed answered prayers.


July 16th, 2013
8:58 am

My daughter has followed the story and kept me up to date. I feel too close to it, as my son at 40 months suffered a TBI also. I have prayed frequently for this child and his family. It is very difficult to watch your child struggle for life.


July 16th, 2013
9:15 am

Oops, can’t type: he was 46 months old.

Techmom: not grilling you, but we cannot tell what “value” this child will have. But he has already taught a lot of folks a lot of things, and that will likely continue.

Not sure of your beliefs, but in Thessalonians it says, ” In ALL things give thanks.” Now, that is a tall order. It is easy to be thankful for the “good” things (although we tend to give OURSELVES the credit doe it. It is much more difficult when it is something painful.

Bob Loblaw

July 16th, 2013
10:28 am

Not on facebook. I get updated 1890’s style when the Atlanta Journal Constitution runs a story on it. Think there was an update last week or the week before. But generally speaking, updates on tragedies are depressing even though there is primal urge to want to look.

The updates the AJC runs on this boy always reminds me of a few years ago a man lost his wife and kids when a tree branch fell on their car. Somewhere in midtown or buckhead I think. I think they ran a follow up on him too a few months later.

I’m also curious what the factors the AJC uses to create follow up story. I guess they poll readers? A few years back the AJC ran a story every few months on some chick that went to Iraq. Either I can’t remember what the human interest was exactly or if there was a tragic background there too. Maybe it was just because she was a good looking cheerleader type that decide to enlist after high school.

K's Mom

July 16th, 2013
10:51 am

@Techmom, those thoughts have crossed my mind as well. I feel horrible for these parents and cannot imagine what they are going through, but I do not see any quality of life for this child. I do not follow it on FB, but I see some of the posts due to friends commenting. It is heartbreaking and i know that the posts are therapeutic for the parents, but I cannot follow it everyday…and yes, I know that is very selfish.

Miss Priss!

July 16th, 2013
11:56 am

I’ve always wondered why parents of murdered children are so quick and happy to be interviewed by television reporters. The day of the murder! Disgusting.


July 16th, 2013
12:23 pm

@TECHMOM, yes you should be grilled. I guess you have never known anyone with a traumatic brain injury, correct? They can recover and it may take years for that to happen but it does happen. With you logic we should just go ahead an let people die and give them no chance. You should read the story and post and you would know how far this child has already come. I have a niece that was born with special needs. She can’t do anything for herself or talk but she is a beautiful person. Glad you were not her mother you would have smothered her with a pillow long ago.


July 16th, 2013
12:42 pm

I don’t have FaceBook but I do see the Tweets and keep abreast in that manner. While I absolutely wish them the best I must say that I despise the mother always referring to Tripp as her “whole world” — I find this to be so unkind to the father. I love my kids to death but they have, and never will be, my “whole world” – a very important part of it, yes, but not “my whole world” as if nothing else matters. Maybe she means nothing by it and perhaps the husband doesn’t mind but it still comes across, in my opinion, as a slam toward him.
@Techmom, I somwhat agree but, yes, be prepared for the comments!!


July 16th, 2013
12:56 pm

I taught severely mentally handicapped kids for two years. Each of them have amazing, self-sacrificing parents. For each of them the fear is what if,they outlive their parents? One girl’s mom died unexpectedly last year, and her elderly aunts are caring for her, but they are aboutm70 and not in the best of health themselves. None of the three would probably be eligible for a group home situation, and only one has a sister who might care for her after the demise of,their parents. So, so difficult.


July 16th, 2013
12:58 pm

CC – your last statement was cruel and cold. You more or less called her a murderer but Techmom was merely giving her opinion, that’s all. I myself would never give up hope if it were my child but some people can’t deal with things like this the way others can. I try to make it a point in life to not judge others when I’m not in their shoes and you should work on that too.


July 16th, 2013
5:00 pm

@jmb, I thought that techmom’s comment ” I am probably going to get grilled for saying this but after all that child has been through, I wonder if it will be worth it?”, was cruel and cold. Why is it ok for her to judge the quality of life Tripp will have? Or if it will be worth it to his parents to have their child alive and with them? Her comments were harsh and cruel and I really hope Tripp’s mom does not read them. I was merely pointing out that in her “opinion” children with profound needs shouldn’t be kept alive. In 5 years this child could be walking and talking, to what degree who knows? As for judging others you seem to have a firm grasp on that, maybe you should work on it a little harder, in my opinion. My family has walked in the Halstead’s shoes as we have a child with profound special needs.


July 16th, 2013
7:13 pm

Techmom I understand what you were saying. I worked with a young man whose nephew was born with severe disabilities, the child is blind, deaf, severely mentally impaired, tube fed, and will wear diapers for the duration of his life. The uncle told me his sister and her husband were bankrupt before the child left the hospital because their insurance maxed out at a million dollars. Medical bills continue to pile up, she is unable to work due the care needed for the child but the phone rings constantly from medical bill collectors. She is essentially homebound because he can’t leave the home except for doctor’s appointments. My co-worker questioned why his sister made the choice to take drastic measures to save her son’s life. He stated her life, as she knew it, ended the day her son was born and the child isn’t aware of anything that goes on around him. I had no answer for my co-worker, I just listened. Thinking of my own children, I could easily see myself taking every measure possible to keep them with me. The bigger issue is it for the child or the parent? If the child is in continuous pain or suffering should the parent let go? I don’t know. I have questioned why this one child has continued to receive media coverage when children are seriously injured or die in Atlanta on a weekly basis. If we are going to give ongoing media coverage for one child shouldn’t it be done for all the children?


July 16th, 2013
7:37 pm

I suffered through 3 miscarriages and ended up with a diagnosis of low ovarian reserve with almost NO chance at conceiving and carrying to term before I got pregnant with my son. He is the light of my life and I would do anything for him. I look at him and see reflections of who my other babies might have been. It was agony to be carrying a baby with no chance at life and be waiting for the inevitable to happen, and then grieve what might have been time after time. My body felt like a tomb. I wouldn’t wish that hell on any parent. But these children we are talking about… They ARE here with us, by chance, by grace, for what purpose we can’t know. They deserve love and mercy and respect, and their parents deserve our pity and our compassion, rather than our judgement, about the choices they have made for their families. Those who carry that heavy burden are Angels among us. They do the best they can in the worst of circumstances. Because ultimately, they love their kids, and are doing what most parents would do for their children–whatever it takes.


July 17th, 2013
12:27 pm

CC – I get what you are saying but you know as well as others do that she didn’t mean that the way it came out in type. I think she was just talking about all of the pain he’s suffering through to get to a better life. In time I’m sure it all be okay for him but until then lets all just hope and pray it’s sooner than later. And on the judging, I don’t think I judged you. I was simply saying you shouldn’t judge her. And sorry for child. Hope all is well now.

Gaming Teacher

July 17th, 2013
10:01 pm

Lots of my friends follow, although I don’t personally. Since I have friends that occasionally post, I’ve seen some. Like others, I say a little prayer and am amazed at that family’s strength.

Slightly off-topic, to FCM and others who may ‘like’ some of the things on FB to show support of other ill children or our military, be aware of something called “like jacking” where scammers use social media in malicious ways. For those of you Facebook foes, it is indeed a reason to be wary of the sites – for those of you who find them an asset to communication, just be aware.

just wondering

July 18th, 2013
5:13 pm

They are in it for the money. They kept that baby alive when they figured out what a cash cow he became. My guess…..they will be divorced in less than 5 years and dad will have moved on to some one that can have babies that he can play ball with.