Parents of 2-Year-Old Killed by Alligator at Disney Resort Set up Memorial Foundation: 'Losing Lane Has Broken Our Hearts in the Worst Possible Way'
“After the tragic loss of our beloved 2-year-old son, Lane Thomas, we have created the Lane Thomas Foundation to honor his memory,” the statement reads. “Losing Lane has broken our hearts in the worst possible way. While there is no way to mend our hearts, we can do good work in his honor.”
“If you would like to honor Lane, donations are being accepted on behalf of the Lane Thomas Foundation at the Omaha Community Foundation. We will use these funds to make direct donations to various charitable organizations. One hundred percent of all donations will be received by the charitable cause,” it continues.
“We thank you for helping us create a lasting legacy for our son,” the statement concludes.
A wake was held Monday for Graves, following a rosary pray service on Sunday night at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Elkhorn, Nebraska.
A funeral mass is scheduled at the church for Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT, with a burial at Resurrection Cemetery to follow.
Lane was playing in a foot of water in a lagoon near the resort on Tuesday when the alligator attacked him, according to a witness. The toddler’s father attempted to fight off the gator, suffering lacerations on his hand as a result, but could not save his son, according to the Associated Press.
His body was discovered by the Orange County Sheriff dive team on Wednesday.
The parents, along with 4-year-old daughter Ella, returned home to Elkhorn on Thursday. As they mourn, the Elkhorn community has rallied together around the Graves family, offering babysitting help and raising money through lemonade stand sales.
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In a statement given on Saturday, Matt Graves said the family appreciated the support and love from friends in their community and around the country
“Melissa and I continue to deal with the loss of our beloved boy, Lane, and are overwhelmed with the support and love we have received from family and friends in our community as well as from around the country,” they said.
“We understand the public s interest, but as we move forward this weekend, we ask for and appreciate the privacy we need to lay our son to rest.
“Neither Melissa, myself or anyone from our family will be speaking publicly; we simply cannot at this time,” the family added.
Walt Disney World Resort officials have announced they are installing new signs and temporary barriers on resort beach locations following the incident.
In addition to the Graves’ foundation, St. Patrick’s is also accepting donations of all kinds on behalf of the family, including money and letters; and the Omaha Community Foundation is also accepting donations on behalf of the Graves family.