One year ago, a young 2-year-old boy by the name of Lane Thomas Graves was attacked and killed by an alligator in Walt Disney World, and the company wishes to honor his memory. Wednesday marks one year since tragedy struck on the edge of the beach at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, but the wounds will never heal. To pay tribute to the young boy, Walt Disney World is going to erect a lighthouse statue which is the icon and symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the family founded the Lane Thomas Foundation to not only honor Lane but also support the families that have been there for them. With the lighthouse as their symbol, they state it can serve as a “beacon of hope in the depths of despair.”
Disney is looking to do their part as well. George A. Kalogridis, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, issued a statement on Tuesday to detail the company’s plans.
“To provide continued awareness of the foundation and its mission, we’ve commissioned an original sculpture of the lighthouse the foundation uses as a symbol of love and hope, to be installed on our property this summer.”
Even though Wednesday is the one-year mark since Lane’s death, a spokeswoman for Walt Disney World did say that no ceremony was planned.
While spending time with his family on the beach of the Grand Floridian Resort on June 14, 2016, Lane was simply playing with a beach pail and scooping up some sand. That was an alligator unexpectedly came out of the water, grabbed the child, and pulled him into the water.
Matt Graves, Lane’s father, attempted to wrestle with the alligator and get his son out of the animal’s clutches, but he could do nothing. More than 16 hours later, police located Lane’s body and after an investigation, his death was marked as an accident.
Over the following months, Walt Disney World made a number of huge changes to its resorts which sat on the edges of lakes and other waterways. Beaches were closed for weeks as rock walls were erected and fencing was put up to further separate beaches from the waterways.
Signs have been put up all over property to let guests know there are dangerous animals such as alligators, snakes, and other creatures in the water and marshes.
Kalogridis did not say where the lighthouse statue was going to be erected on Walt Disney World property, but only that it will arrive later this summer.
The family still has no desire to speak publicly about the tragedy from last year as they just want to live their lives without publicity.
Lane Thomas Graves lost his life far too soon in what can only be seen as a tragic accident that affected his family, friends, and so many others. The alligator attack that killed the child ended up changing so many things at Walt Disney World in an attempt to make all areas as safe for their guests as possible. While those new barriers and safety measures serve as a reminder, the lighthouse statue will serve as an honor and tribute to Lane.
[Featured Image by Danny Cox]