ORLANDO, Fla. - Monday, June 14th, marks five years since a toddler was killed by an alligator on Walt Disney World property.
The Graves family, including 2-year-old Lane Graves, were visiting Orlando from Nebraska when the accident happened.
The child was playing at Grand Floridian's beach when a gator grabbed him and took him underwater.
There is now a memorial – a sculpture of a lighthouse – at the resort honoring Graves' memory.
In addition, Graves' parents, Matt and Melissa, have created the ‘Lane Thomas Foundation’ to help other families fighting for their children’s lives. They want to encourage more families to consider donating their children's organs if their child is ever facing death.
"Because we know the pain of losing a child, we wanted to focus on an issue where we believe we can help prevent other parents from knowing our pain. We chose pediatric organ donation because we saw those families struggling with very limited resources to care for their children," Matt and Melissa Graves previously said.
Since the foundation was created, it has helped pay travel and living expenses for nearly 100 families being treated in Omaha. That included donating $112,275 to 30 families in 2019, according to the foundation’s tax forms.
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Families of children getting transplants typically have to spend weeks or months in Omaha after an operation, and the long recovery time often forces one parent to take leave from their job or quit to be with the child. Gillock said those grants really help families.
"The Lane Thomas Foundation is amazing to help these families that are going through organ donation to not worry about financials. It should never be an issue when your child is on their deathbed. Never," she said.
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