Lane Graves, of Elkhorn, Neb., died after he was snatched by an alligator while he was playing in shallow water in a man-made lake at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
“Melissa and I continue to deal with the loss of our beloved boy, Lane, and are overwhelmed with the support and love we have received from family and friends in our community as well as from around the country,” the toddler’s father, Matt Graves, said in a statement. “We understand the public’s interest, but as we move forward this weekend, we ask for and appreciate the privacy we need to lay our son to rest. Neither Melissa, myself or anyone from our family will be speaking publicly; we simply cannot at this time.”
The family has established a memorial foundation in honor of Lane that will make donations to charitable organizations. On the foundation’s website, Matt and Melissa Graves wrote that their son’s death had “broken our hearts in the worst possible way.”
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, where the funeral service took place, asked the community to pray for the Graves family and to tie royal blue ribbons around their trees to show support. On Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported, hundreds of blue ribbons had been tied around trees and fences throughout the area.