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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    When Doug Henton graduates Sunday, we will all graduate with him

    He graduates Sunday.

    And we graduate with him.

    What a story.

    A story of faith, hope, love, community, accountability, responsibility.


    Doug Henton graduates Sunday from Connecticut College.

    If you are unfamiliar with Henton, here is the two-minute drill version: a former basketball player at New London High who had the academic acumen but not the financial means to attend Conn College. This was three years ago now. His story came to the attention of local businessman Mike Buscetto, the Niantic-based philanthropic group "Power of Together" and (current state representative) Chris Soto, who runs "Higher Edge," which guides low-income and first-generation students through enrollment, retention and graduation from college.

    They conspired to send Henton on a rainbow ride, providing the money and means to chase the dream. And yet Buscetto made it clear that if Henton's grades suffered or heaven forbid he end up on Page 1 for the wrong reason, the money would disappear faster than Jimmy Hoffa.

    Doug Henton got his bounce of the ball.

    And he's still running with it, all the way to the stage, all the way to get his diploma. And, you figure, most any job he wants.

    Ain't life grand sometimes?

    Henton's story should resonate with all of us. You know the best way to get help? Ask for it. You know the best way to live? Through others, as evidenced by the now hundreds of people in the region associated with Power of Together. As evidenced by Buscetto's forever willingness to help. And Soto's understanding of just how badly our kids need programs like "Higher Edge."

    Henton began all this with a phone call to yours truly. It came on a sunny Friday in the summer. I was out grilling. Strange number. Do I answer or flip the chicken?

    Me: "Hello?"

    Doug: "Mr. D. This is Doug Henton. Do you remember me?"

    Me: I laughed. "Doug! Of course I do. Shock the world!"

    Henton chuckled.

    Henton said as much during one of our first basketball videos on theday.com. His plan as a high school basketball player: Shock the world. Maybe he hasn't shocked the world. Yet. But his story checks every box of awesomeness.

    Our ensuing conversation was about how Henton had to leave Salve Regina, where he could no longer afford the tuition. He applied and gained admission to Conn. Except that The School That Pays The City $12,500 Per Year left $21,000 of Henton's tuition uncovered.

    Hence, the rant. You can't find it in your hearts to help out a kid from the city? (Still annoys me to this day). Then there's this: Henton has given The School That Pays The City $12,500 Per Year more positive local publicity than any other kid they've admitted in years.

    Buscetto read the story and began to orchestrate. Nina Beebe, a Power of Together member, shared Henton's story with the membership. They voted to give Henton a chunk of money that helped immensely. Enter Soto, who advised Henton on educational matters.

    What a team.

    And really, another example that we are lucky to live here. I thought about this the other day, sitting on the beach in Niantic (before a bird with apparent dysentery decorated my shin.) Look where we live. We have beaches, a beautiful coastline, scenery, great places to eat and drink ... and so many people willing to help.

    It never hurts to count your blessings, right?

    Doug Henton, it turns out, has emerged as his own blessing. To us. Because he understood the responsibility attached to his good fortune. There was no guarantee he'd make it at Conn. But Henton did. Thus making so many people, even the ones who never met him, proud.

    Doug Henton graduates.

    And we graduate with him.

    Not many better stories ever told around here.


    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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