Jeanette Sparano has no shortage of things on her mind, among them supporting her husband, Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, through what has been a tumultuous season. But that hasn’t stopped her from pouring out her heart and giving her attention to the young victims of a pre-Thanksgiving murder-suicide that left their mother dead, one of them partially paralyzed and all of them traumatized.
“How could you not fall in love with them? They’re amazing,” Sparano said.
Evelina “Lina” Jack was shot and killed on Nov. 20 by her boyfriend, Mark Glinton, 37. Her children, Ashleigh, 14, Quentin, 13, Xavier, 9, Kristian, 2, were in their North Miami Beach home with their mother at the time.
Police said after the couple argued over a phone conversation Glinton had with another woman, Glinton got a gun and began shooting Jack and her children.
Police have hailed Quentin as a hero for jumping in front of his baby brother, taking the bullet and also was shot twice, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
North Miami Beach Police Detective Cora Mann said Quentin now lives with his biological father in Miramar but the home needs to be made wheelchair accessible.
Enter Sparano, who galvanized a team of people – contractors and others — who will tackle that problem. Details are still being worked out, said Ilona Wolpin, senior director of community relations for the Dolphins.
“That’s one thing his family shouldn’t have to worry about, how he’s going to get in his house and around his house. They have enough that’s been put on their shoulders. Whatever we can take off, that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Sparano, who first met the children in December when they were still hospitalized.
She had only heard of their plight until she was introduced to them by Jenna Green, daughter of Dr. Barth A. Green, a founder of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Sparano credits Jenna Green with paving the way for her to help the children, including the effort to make Quentin’s home wheelchair accessible.
“To go through what they’ve gone through and to still have the attitudes they have, the resiliency and the spirit that they have is amazing, so we all felt like whatever we could do for these kids, there’s just not enough we could do for them,” Sparano said in an interview at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens about an hour before the Dolphins played their last home game of the season on Dec. 26 against the Detroit Lions. The children were Sparano’s guests at the game and were provided a luxury suite.
Sparano also organized donations with the help of the Miami Dolphins Wives Organization, raising more than $10,000 for the kids. During the recent holidays, the children got gifts and toys at the team’s ‘Fins and Kids’ Holiday Event, held at the Dolphins training facility in Davie. Sparano says she’s in it for the long haul with the children.
“It’s not just about doing something for them for the holidays. Whatever we could continue to do for these kids we plan to be there for them,” she said.
Mann and a detective colleague, Michael Stein, joined the kids at the Dec. 26 game. The children occasionally watched the game but mostly they bounced around and chomped on chips, popcorn and chicken fingers.
“It was a great experience for them,” said Mann, whom some have likened to a surrogate mother for the children.
After the game, the kids visited the Dolphins locker room to meet players and left with autographed mementos.
Stein, who has also been by their side since the tragedy, said they all thoroughly enjoyed their Dolphins experience.
Pictured: Tony and Jeanette Sporano
Daphne Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.