Parents of Boy Killed by Alligator at Disney World Speak Publicly for First Time: ‘We Miss Those Hugs and Kisses’

The parents of Lane Graves, the 2-year-old boy who was killed by an alligator at Orlando’s Walt Disney World in June, spoke publicly for the first time since their son’s death at a memorial celebration on Saturday, September 3.

Lane Graves
Lane Graves in a family photo. Orange County Sheriff's Office

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“Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to speak but, my baby, I owe it to him to honor him,” Melissa Graves tearfully told hundreds of friends, family members and neighbors at Elkhorn South High School in Elton, Nebraska, on Saturday, which would’ve been Lane’s 3rd birthday. “So his mommy needed to say, ‘Happy birthday, Lanie. You’re in our hearts today and every second of every other day. You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet baby boy.”

She continued, “When we were apart, you would tell us, ‘I missed you,’ as we walked through the door. You would always come running with a big hug and kiss. We miss you buddy, and we miss those hugs and kisses. We all love you so very, very much.”

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As Us Weekly previously reported, the Graves family was vacationing at Disney World earlier this summer when Lane was snatched and killed by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon at Grand Floridian Resort on June 14. (Disney has since added warning signs to the area.)

Matt Graves, Melissa’s husband and Lane’s father, also spoke at Saturday’s birthday celebration, saying, “Today, Lane would have turned 3 years old, but we celebrate his first birthday in heaven with the community that has surrounded us with love and support. Melissa and I often speak of how lucky we were to have spent two years, 11 months and 11 days as a complete family. My wife would tell you those were the happiest days of her life and I couldn’t agree more.”

Lane Graves
The family of Lane Graves celebrate what would have been the toddler’s 3rd birthday.

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Matt added, “What I’m also confident about is that our faith has lifted us up as we fight every day to find peace. We would not have been able to get through the pain without this community, our friends and family, and for that we say thank you. There really is no place like Nebraska. Happy birthday, buddy. We miss you, LT.”

Lane Graves
Family and friends release balloons to celebrate the short life of Lane Graves.

Matt and Melissa Graves (who are also parents of daughter Ella) recently established the Lane Thomas Foundation to honor their son’s memory. The foundation will make donations to various charities, according to RFD-TV.

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