Family Celebrates Third Birthday Of The Boy Killed By An Alligator At Disney World

By Beatrice Walters, Parent Herald September 07, 12:49 am
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Last Saturday was a heartwarming yet painful reminder of the short-lived life of a boy who died at the happiest place on earth. Hundreds of people, led by his parents, celebrated what would have been his third birthday if an alligator did not take his life away.

Lane Graves, then 2 years old, was paddling at a no-swimming zone in Grand Floridian Resort and Spa of Orlando's Walt Disney World when an alligator dragged him to a lagoon. The animal bit the little boy's head and he was drowned to death on the night of June 14, a few months away from his third birthday.

Mirror reports that the parents were with the boy as he was paddling in ankle-deep water when the alligator attacked. They tried to save their son from the alligator's jaws but to no avail. Authorities suspect that the alligator drowned the boy first before it ate its dead body.

After the incident, according to TMZ, the Disney staff locked different parts of the resort without clearly informing the guests why. This prompted guest complaints which the company answered by offering a number of rooms for free, which on normal days would cost $560 a night.

As per ABC 7 News, Matt and Melissa Graves chose not to file any lawsuit against Disney but instead focus on the health of their family and a charitable foundation named after their deceased son. Disney, on the other hand, has implemented additional precautionary measures and assured guests of the safety of their resort.

Now more than two months after the death of Graves, the family celebrated their son's "first birthday in heaven" and third birthday on earth if he would have been alive. The family's neighbors, Brandi and Mike Miller,organized the simple celebration wherein hundreds of people gathered at a high school football stadium in Omaha, Nebraska with their blue balloons (via Omaha World Herald).

Silver crosses, prayer cards and blue ribbons were handed to the guests together with balloons, which they were to release to fly away to the sky. The Graves parents also prepared Lane's favorite M&M cookies for everyone to enjoy on his birthday.

Matt and Melissa took the opportunity to address the crowd and thank them for the support and assistance they've been giving their family. They also left a message for birthday celebrant Lane, "You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet, baby boy.... We miss you, buddy, and we miss those hugs and kisses."

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