Wilmington Sharks rally around host family, player who lost home in fire

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WWAY) — Friday night is host family appreciation night at the Wilmington Sharks game and one family is going to get a special honor.

Families have volunteered to host the Sharks players for the entire season, saying they become just like family.

For one of the host families, that meant experiencing a major loss together.

“They are part of our family. We call them our summer sons, because that’s exactly what they are to us,” Wayne Jones said.

For Wayne and Jennifer Jones, summer time means adding a Sharks baseball player to their family of four.

“Host families are critical to the Wilmington Sharks because without them, where do the players stay?”, Tom Lamont said.

For the last four summers, the Jones and their two kids have welcomed a Sharks player into their home.

This year it is David Smith.

“I’m an only child, so this is kind of my first taste of having like a brother and a sister, but it’s been good. I feel like I get along with them really well,” Smith said.

So I had to ask, if he’s gotten a taste of fighting like siblings fight?

“We definitely bicker a little bit, but I kind of drive the bickering just because I think it’s funny,” Smith said.

But what none of them expected was to go through a hardship, like some families unexpectedly have to go through.

“July 4th we left to go to go see the fireworks display down the road,” Jones said.

About 30 minutes later, Jones got a panicked phone call from his neighbor.

“Said that our house was on fire,” Jones said.

From the outside, the house looks fine. But Jones says they lost just about everything inside.

“Some things you can’t replace in the house, and at times it’s kind of difficult to come over  and kind of look at everything over here, but we’re getting through it,” Jones said.

But just as a family does, they’re getting through it, together.

“I was just thankful that everybody was okay honestly. Wayne called me about 10:45 and my heart kind of sank right away,” Smith said.

And while there were some baseball casualties, the cleats are replaceable. Family is not.

“I lost two pairs of cleats. I mean Jen will tell you, they smelled pretty bad, so it’s probably not the worst thing, but I did lose two pairs of cleats,” Smith said.

This family just keeps getting bigger, thanks to the Sharks.

“We were able to thanks to host families, the fans, on a night shortly after the fire, we walked around the stadium and said, ‘Can you help? Can you help the Jones family?,” Lamont said.

Tom Lamont with the Wilmington Sharks says they raised hundreds of dollars to help the Jones, but that’s not all.

“The players.. and I get upset…. the players won the game right after the fire and they dedicated the game ball,” Lamont said.

The Jones say the cause of the fire is undetermined. But they do know that is started in the garage.

Click here to help the family. 

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