In 2016, Matt and Melissa Graves faced one of the most painful tragedies of their lives. Their two-year-old son, Lane, was dragged to death by an alligator at Disney World. Lane was innocently playing at the Seven Seas Lagoon Beach just outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa when out of nowhere, a huge alligator snatched him.
Matt was quick to dash to the water and tried to free his son from the beast but then he was still brought away, leaving the family helpless. Lane’s body wasn’t discovered until 16 hours later. Lane’s death may have been ruled out as an accident but Disney made sure to put up warning signs and even built a fence around the area, dividing the guests from the beaches on its multiple resorts. They also removed 95 alligators from its part because of the incident.
After Lane passed away, his parents started a foundation which they called Lane Thomas Foundation. This is dedicated to supporting the families who suddenly lost their child, and also spread awareness about organ donation. A year after their son’s death, his dad talked during a press conference and said, “Lane had a very special light about him. We promised him at his wake we would turn this tragedy into good for many families.”
On what supposed to be his third birthday, the family together with their whole community gathered, wearing blue shirts and holding blue balloons to honor Lane’s death and celebrate his birthday at the same time. The family even prepared M&M cookies which were Lane’s favorite.
Disney World also honored Lane in August 2017 and they dedicated a lighthouse statue to him. According to Disney, this lighthouse symbolizes a “beacon of hope” in the depths of despair in order to create a strong base of support for families who are in crisis.
Two years after their son’s death, the Graves shared an exciting news to the world, they just welcomed another baby boy into this world! The family decided that his name would be a special tribute to his late brother. His name is Christian Lane Graves. The family knows that the pain of losing Lane will never go away, but they feel God has blessed them with this precious miracle of life. Lane’s siblings, Ella and Christian will always have their brother in heaven watching over them as their guardian angel. The family also expressed how grateful they are for the love and support that they continuously receive.
Matt and Melissa paid a tribute to last June through their charity’s Facebook page, another way to keep his memory alive. They posted a picture of his happy face while goofing with dad with a caption:
“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.”
Losing Lane might have been one of the most painful things that ever happened for the Graves family. The Lane Thomas Foundation is helping the family cope with the loneliness and grief that they still feel for losing their son. Welcoming their newborn is one of the best blessings that they received this year but they promised to keep Lane Graves’ name alive not only for their family but for everyone who loves their beloved little boy.