ELKTON, Nebraska – Saturday, September 3rd would have been Lane Graves’ third birthday.
Lane is the toddler who was killed by an alligator at the Seven Seas lagoon in Disney World in June.
Hundreds of his family and friends gathered to mark the occasion on a football field in his hometown of Elkton, Nebraska, including his parents, who spoke publicly for the first time since their son’s death, according to People.com.
“Happy birthday Lanie,” said his mom, Melissa Graves. “Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to speak but, my baby, I owe it to him to honor him. 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 went on. “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.”
“On behalf of Melissa and myself we want to thank you all for coming to Lane’s birthday celebration,” said his father, Matt. “This event would not be possible without Brandi and Mike Miller who are the best neighbors anyone could wish for.”
“Today Lane would have turned three years old but we celebrate his first birthday in heaven with the community that has surrounded us with love and support,” he said. “Melissa and I often speak of how lucky we were to have spent two years, 11 months and 11 days as a complete family.
The Graves’ neighbors, Brandi and Mike Miller, put together the event, which they called the “Love for Lane Celebration.”
Those who came to the memorial were asked to wear blue in honor of Lane. Afterwards, they gathered together in the shape of a heart and released thousands of blue balloons.