Last year, tragedy struck at Disney World when 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed by an alligator attack. The boy was collecting water to make a sandcastle from a shallow part of the Seven Seas Lagoon beach when an alligator lurking in the water snatched him away.
Lane’s father attempted to save his son, but another alligator appeared and forced him out of the water. The Lane’s body was found by search-and-rescue crews the next day.
In honor of their son, Lane’s parents Matt and Melissa Graves have created the Lane Thomas Foundation, which offers financial assistance for kids in need of organ transplants in the family’s home city of Omaha, Nebraska.
The family plans to partner with Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine to help pay for costs incurred by families whose children are waiting for organ transplants, including transportation, lodging and other non-medical expenses.
The details of the new initiative were announced during a news conference on the morning of Sept. 27, WOWT News reported.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support and love we have been shown from across the country,” Matt Graves said in a statement. “We believe we have found an impactful way for us to help others in similar circumstances and ease some of their burdens so these parents can focus on their child.”
The creation of the Lane Thomas Foundation comes on the heels of Disney World’s unveiling of a sculpture in honor of Lane. A blue-and-gold lighthouse was placed along the shorelines where the tragic accident occurred.
Beautiful Lighthouse Sculpture to Honor Lane Graves is in Place at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa https://t.co/mNE9G35fDe pic.twitter.com/DRqLS1AXlA
— The DIS (@TheDIS) August 7, 2017
“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. We will continue to honor Lane and preserve his spirit through the Lane Thomas Foundation,” the family said in a statement.
You can find more information about The Lane Thomas Foundation and how to support its work at LaneThomas.org.