Two years after 2-year-old Lane Graves was snatched by an alligator and dragged to his death at Disney World in Florida, his family has worked to help other children through a foundation set up in the little boy’s honor.
In a statement shared on Facebook, Thursday, the Lane Thomas Foundation remembered the late toddler, saying, “LT, we love you up to heaven and down to the grass. Hug, kiss, ugga mugga. We will fight every day to keep your memory alive and make a positive difference in your name.”
Lane had been playing in the sand near the shoreline of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa on June 14, 2016, while on vacation from Nebraska with his family when the alligator pulled him into the lagoon. 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.
Shortly after his death, parents Matt and Melissa Graves started The Lane Thomas Foundation, which helps cover travel and other non-medical expenses for families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants being treated at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital or Nebraska Medicine.
“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 press conference in Sept. 2017, the Associated Press reported.
In Nov. 2017 a post on the foundation’s Facebook page announced they had already helped 18 families.
The Lane Thomas Foundation’s social media page regularly features children they are helping and shares fundraising events such as “Lanes for Lane,” a bowling event held last month.
Their Third Annual Lane’s Light is set for Nov. 16, 2018. The event showcases festively decorated Christmas trees to honor Lane.
Disney World also unveiled a statue back in August 2017 in honor of Lane.
The lighthouse statue is a symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation, which serves to act “as a beacon of hope in the depths of despair, to create a strong base of support for families in crisis,” according to their website.
The lighthouse features two blue stars and a plaque that reads, “Presented to the Lane Thomas Foundation. A beacon of hope. A light of love.”
“To provide continued awareness of the foundation and its mission, we’ve commissioned an original sculpture of the lighthouse the foundation uses as a symbol of love and hope, to be installed on our property this summer,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in the statement released to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Graves family said they find solace in Disney’s remembrance.
“We find comfort that so many people continue to remember our sweet boy, Lane, and we believe the lighthouse stands as a beacon of hope and support for families in the depths of despair,” they said in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel at the time. “We will continue to honor Lane and preserve his spirit through the Lane Thomas Foundation.”
“We created the Lane Thomas Foundation to give light and hope to children to go through life-saving organ transplants,” Melissa said in a promotional video.
Donations to the foundation are accepted through their website.