GULFPORT -- Friends and family members gathered for a vigil Wednesday night in support of 3-year-old Zander Saucier of Jackson County, who remains hospitalized from injuries he suffered last weekend.
The vigil at Nugent United Methodist Church in Gulfport attracted a large crowd.
Those in attendance were hopeful Zander will make a full recovery.
"The latest news is good," the Rev. Lance Presley told the crowd. "Today, Zander was sitting up, his eyes are open, and he's responsive."
Presley said the church hosted the vigil as a way to urge the community to pray for the boy and help his family in a time of need.
"That's why we are here tonight," he said, "to give praise to God and pray for our dear Zander."
Attendees also contributed money to help Zander's mother pay medical bills. The church plans to collect the donations and take them to USA Women's and Children's Hospital in Mobile, where he's is being treated.
His father, Nathan Blake McCrory, 24, was arrested Monday on a charge of felony child abuse. Jackson County sheriff's investigators have accused McCrory of burning Zander and hitting him, causing a collapsed lung and lacerating his liver, according to court affidavits.
Zander's mother has not left his bedside, relative Jim Morris said.
"Ever since we got (Zander) to Mobile, it's been one step after the other to improvement," Morris said following Wednesday night's vigil. "(His mother) has not left the hospital by his side since she got there."
Morris said he remains confident Zander will make a full recovery.
"He's a strong little boy, thank God," he said. "The way things look, I'm hoping by the weekend that he's home."