JACKSON COUNTY -- Zander Saucier, the 3-year-old boy critically injured in an alleged beating by his father, received a round of applause Friday after he walked on his own down the hall of a Mobile hospital's pediatric intensive care unit.
"One of the things he had to do before they would let him out of the intensive care unit was he had to walk," Jimmy Spears, a relative Zander affectionately refers to as Unc, said Saturday. "These people are awesome. The love they show these kids is overwhelming."
Doctors have now moved Zander to his own room. He's no longer on oxygen and his feeding tube has been removed, Spears said. He's still having some trouble talking, likely because of the ventilator the boy relied to survive earlier in the week, Spears said.
Zander's father, Nathan Blake McCrory, 24, is accused of burning the boy's arm and hitting him, resulting in a collapsed lung and lacerated liver, according to affidavits. He is being held at the Jackson County jail on charges of felony child abuse and marijuana cultivation.
Zander has been recovering at USA Children's and Women's Hospital.
He was on a ventilator most of the week.
His mother, Emily Saucier, has been by her son's side since his hospitalization.
Spears said the family has received support from people near and far.
"We want to reiterate how overwhelmed we are from the support from everywhere all over the country, from as far away as Washington state," Spears said Saturday. "At a time when so much bad happens in this world, and you hear all the negative stuff out there, this week has done my heart well.
"To see all the support he has received shows this country still cares."
Zander's recovery is coming along well enough that he was able to pedal around on a three-wheeler his family checked out for him from the hospital. A lot of what is offered to the children, Spears said, is available because of the support of the Children's Miracle Network.
Still, Zander has a way to go, Spears said.
"As of right now, it's just night and day from where he was," Spears said. "He's almost his old self as far as physical activities. We just need him to eat and we want him to communicate a little better."
Spears said he's also been in awe of all that the Children's Miracle Network does to help children like Zander.
"Children's Miracle Network," he said, "they are my heroes right now."