The parents of the toddler who was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World in Florida in June told several hundred people at a high school football stadium on Saturday the family wanted to celebrate their son’s “first birthday in heaven”.
Melissa and Matt Graves spoke at Elkhorn South High School in Omaha to remember Lane Graves on what would have been his third birthday, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Lane died on 14 June after an alligator pulled him into a lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort, an upscale Disney property. He was gathering sand for a sandcastle when the gator attacked. The final report on his death said the boy died from a crushing bite and drowning and that Matt Graves reached into the alligator’s mouth in an attempt to save his son.
After Lane’s death, Disney made changes to restrict visitor contact with alligators on the property. Fences and other barriers were built around some of the lakes, and “no fishing” signs installed around waterfront areas.
At the football stadium on Saturday, the crowd wore blue shirts and released blue balloons into the air.
“You’ll always be mommy’s loving, sweet, baby boy … We miss you, buddy, and we miss those hugs and kisses,” Melissa Graves said.
Matt Graves said Lane brought joy to the family.
“My wife will tell you those are the happiest days of her life, and I couldn’t agree with her more,” he said. “Happy birthday, buddy.”
Image credit: family handout/Getty