Matt and Melissa Graves established The Lane Thomas Foundation to help families with children receiving organ transplants

By Char Adams
September 28, 2017 08:08 AM
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The parents of the 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was killed by an alligator last year at Disney World have established a foundation in their son’s name to help families of children in need of organ transplants.

It’s been more than a year since Lane Graves was snatched by an alligator and dragged to his death in an incident that gripped the nation and consumed headlines for weeks. Now, Matt and Melissa Graves are honoring their son’s memory with The Lane Thomas Foundation.

“Lane had a very special light about him. We promised him at his wake we would turn this tragedy into good for many families,” Matt said during a Wednesday press conference, speaking publicly about the foundation for the first time, the Associated Press reports.

Orange County Sheriff's Office

The foundation helps cover travel and living expenses for families with children being treated at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital or Nebraska Medicine. The organization has already helped 15 families.

Lane was playing in a foot of water on June 14 in the lagoon near the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when the alligator attacked, dragging the boy into the murky waters – his father said he was attacked by a second alligator as he unsuccessfully tried to save his son.

A frantic search for the boy ensued and the toddler’s body was found about 16 hours later. The Orange County Sheriff’s dive team found his body completely intact.

Melissa (left) and Matt Graves
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Last September, Melissa became emotional as she remembered her son among a crowd on what would have been Lane’s third birthday.

“You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet baby boy,” she said. “When we were apart you would tell us, ‘I missed you’ as we walked through the door. You would always come running with a big hug and kiss. We miss you buddy and we miss those hugs and kisses. We all love you so very, very much.”