A night, across southeastern Connecticut, to celebrate the best of us

They happened simultaneously Wednesday night, these three historic events, aimed to illustrate the good in us. Yes. This is us. This is who we want to be in our own little corner of the world.

We want to be achievers.



This is us.

Many glasses were raised, whether at Filomena’s in Waterford, the Mystic Marriott or Fresh Salt in Old Saybrook, where four high school kids from Waterford High School signed letters of intent to play college sports (and saved their parents a gazillion), where the great Bill Stanley was honored and where Marissa Walker, the toughest kid you’ll ever meet, celebrated with her family the occasion of another year cancer free.

You just didn’t want Wednesday night, Nov. 8, 2017 to end.

It began at Filomena’s, the nerve center of the 06385, where scenes from this Italian restaurant were awash in plenty of bottles of red and bottles of white. But that was after more than 100 people gathered in the banquet room to honor four Waterford seniors who have scholarships to college thanks to their athletic excellence.

Mikey Buscetto: basketball, Southern New Hampshire.

Jacklyn Lavoie: lacrosse, Stetson.

Walker Sutman: baseball, Fairfield.

Mike Burrows: baseball, UConn.

And suddenly, all those parental sacrifices — driving all night to lacrosse tournaments, up early on weekends for this game or that practice — all ran like a current to this night, this room. The kids all thanked their parents — few dry eyes remained in the room after that — after which Mike Buscetto, Mikey’s dad and proprietor of Filomena’s, reasoned that the quartet sitting in front of the room were responsible for about $1 million of scholarship money.

Fancy that.

And then in Mike’s inimitable way, he turned to the kids and said, “Don’t (screw) it up,” eliciting some laughs from the gallery.

This much you know about the Fab Four of Lancerville: They were handed nothing, except supportive parents. They did the rest.

Scene II: The Mystic Marriott, where hundreds came to honor one of the all-time greats in our corner of the world, Bill Stanley, whose title at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital reads, “vice president of development and community relations.”

It might just as well say “the face of the place.”

Stanley is the person most associated with L + M, partly because he’s been there for 18 years, but mostly because of this: Stanley is a uniter. He brings people together. He is whom we all we have in common. You say, “Hey, I know Bill Stanley,” and you inevitably hear, “me too!”

Stanley won the Crawford Distinguished Service Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

Home run.

There was some personal irony here, too. I actually ended the night at L + M with a kidney stone, sitting there until the wee hours of the morning. The care I received was second to none, but then, this is what Stanley and his place stands for. (And thankfully, this, too, shall pass. Doing much better).

Finally, the Walkers of Waterford celebrated their daughter’s health with a quiet family dinner in Old Saybrook. Pete Walker, Marissa’s dad, stopped by Filomena’s first to congratulate Walker Sutman, his nephew, on the scholarship. Then it was off with the fam to revel in Marissa’s eighth year of being cancer free.

This seems a good time to note Walker Sutman and Marissa Walker were born the same day: Dec. 5, 1999.

Marissa Walker was 9 when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer. She had an expandable prosthesis inserted in her left leg and many subsequent surgeries. But, as if channeling her inner Gloria Gaynor, she will survive. And she has. She’s a swimmer and softball player at Waterford High with an attitude and outlook to be envied.

What a night.

From Saybrook to Mystic.

The best of us.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.





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