Walt Disney World has revealed its plans to put up a sculpture in honor of Lane Thomas Graves, the two-year-old boy killed by an alligator in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The sculpture will be a lighthouse, which happens to be the logo of the Lane Thomas Foundation. Lane Graves's parents, Matt Graves and Melissa Graves, founded the organization in the wake of the young boy's death to support other families enduring sudden and intense tragedies. On June 14, 2017, George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, gave a statement regarding the decision and said,
The [Lane Thomas Foundation] is dedicated to supporting families of children needing life-saving organ transplants. 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.
George A. Kalogridis did not say where the sculpture would go. Still, the description of the sculpture sounds like it will be a beautiful tribute to the young life lost too soon.
On June 14, 2016, Lane Graves was playing in the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon by Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa when an alligator attacked him and pulled him into the water. Matt Graves attempted to rescue his son, but the story ended in tragedy as dive teams did not recover Lane Graves' body until the next day. They ruled the death an accident caused by drowning and traumatic injuries.
In the wake of the incident, Disney World officials received criticism for failing to post proper warning signs about alligators. Apparently, at the time of Lane Graves' death there were signs at Disney's nearby Polynesian Village Resort warning visitors about the carnivorous reptiles; however, the signs around the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa forbid swimming but did not provide additional information about alligators residing in the water.
It seems the water there has many reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Orlando Sentinel there were 240 alligators caught in the theme park's property between 2006 and 2016. In fact, Matt Graves revealed to authorities that a second large alligator had attacked him after he jumped into the water in an attempt to save his son. Moreover, a different family reportedly encountered a terrifying experience when an alligator at the same Seven Seas Lagoon beach chased them weeks before the death of Lane Graves.
The officials later explained how they routinely caught alligators in the area and they believed they had found the animal that killed Lane Graves. Plus, they added new signs with information about alligators and snakes. Hopefully, the new sculpture will be yet another measure to give some comfort to the grieving family and help to raise awareness of their charity.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.