Blue ribbons, babysitting help and a blockbuster lemonade sale: The community of Elkhorn, Nebraska, is rallying around the Graves family

By Adam Carlson
Updated June 18, 2016 02:15 PM
Orange County Sheriff's Office

Blue ribbons, babysitting help and a blockbuster lemonade sale: With these things and more, the community of Elkhorn, Nebraska, is rallying around the family of 2-year-old Lane Graves in the wake of his tragic death earlier this week at Disney World.

Hundreds of people turned out to a lemonade stand Friday, at an area middle school in Elkhorn, with proceeds planned for a memorial to Lane, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

“I will miss him,” one neighborhood child, who helped set up the stand, told the paper. “I wanted to show them that the community supports them.”

Hundreds of ribbons – blue, for Graves – were also placed on trees and mailboxes and doors around the neighborhood, according to KETV. And community members worked to organize a “meal train” for the family and babysitting support for their young daughter.

“The people here are very warm and there’s definitely been a lot of outpour for the family,” neighbor Tom Stokes told KETV. “And I think everyone can relate to the time they’ve been to Disney World, taken their family there.”

Graves was killed after he was snatched Tuesday by an alligator at a Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, where he playing in a few inches of water by the shore.

Neighbor and lemonade stand organizer Erica Eikmeier told the World-Herald, “During times like this, you just want to wrap your arms around the family. There’s no way we could ever take away the grief … but we can help a little bit.”

The Graves’ church is also accepting donations “of any kind” – money, letters and more.

In a statement earlier this week, the Graves said they were “devastated” beyond words by their son’s death.

“Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time,” they said in the statement. “To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest gratitude.”

The Omaha Community Foundation is also accepting donations on behalf of the Graves family.