MCTV’s 3-2-1 Connection celebrates those who make a difference . . . ‘Where everyone has a story’

    One of many MCTV (Midland Community Television) programs airing diverse voices, 3-2-1 Connection,  provides a talk-show platform for community nonprofits and other organizations, and celebrates those who make a difference. As the program’s tagline reads, both as part of the opening as well as on the team’s bright orange shirts, “[It’s] where everyone has a story.”
Kris Ferguson, MCTV Multimedia Production Specialist, with Amanda Brown, "3-2-1" graphics operator/photographer
     The show’s personnel include Amanda Brown - Graphics Operator and Photographer, Luke Drumright - Host, and Adam White - Lead Cameraman. These three young adults come together as close, longtime friends, as well as people who want to contribute to their community and learn from others. Adam’s mom, Kim White, and Susan Drumright, Luke’s mom, provide support by writing interview questions and scheduling guests, two for each 30-minute monthly-segment.

     Kris Ferguson, MCTV Media Production Specialist, says, “I am grateful that the 3-2-1 Connection crew is volunteering and producing community media right here in Midland, and they’re doing a great job!”
Adam White places a mic on Kevin Heye
     Susan says she is proud of all three of them but is quick to give credit to others who have helped and continue to assist the production. These people include Rick Curtis - 3-2-1 Connection Producer and one of Luke’s staff, Melanie Chapa - SVSU student and one of Amanda’s staff, and Greg Corrion - one of Adam’s staff and Luke’s roommate. “[The program] would not happen without the extra people,” she says.

     It was Trisha Fenby who serves on the Midland Area Community Foundation’s (MACF) Cultural Awareness Coalition (CAC) co-chairing the Neighboring Committee who was instrumental in the show’s beginning, and who her friend Susan says, “provided encouragement early on.” 

     In 2021 Fenby says she needed someone to write articles for Neighboring Week, while at the same time Susan was looking for some sort of connection for Luke. (Neighboring Week is a program of the CAC promoting belonging in all aspects of life across Midland County.) After interviewing Luke previously for a Special Olympics article, Fenby thought of him for the job. Luke then wrote several articles for her that ran in the Midland Daily News. “He recorded the interviews on his phone using an app that transcribed voice to text. Others helped with the organization of the stories and Brown took the pictures,” she says. “Sometimes I got to join them and it was very inspiring.”

Adam White cues the host, Luke Drumright
When Neighboring Week ended, Fenby says, “We asked ourselves ‘how can we keep this going?’” She brainstormed with Kevin LaDuke, Communications Officer for MACF. “It was Kevin,” Fenby says, “who had the idea of and knowledge about MCTV.” After more brainstorming and going through MCTV technical training, 3-2-1 Connection launched in the spring of 2022. “He [Luke] was then able to take so much more ownership,” she says.

     The name of the show, 3-2-1 Connection comes from ‘three’ good friends, Adam, Amanda and Luke, and as Susan says, “[also] gives a nod to Trisomy 21,” known as Down Syndrome. “They also love ‘connecting’ with people. It just all fell into place,” she says. “MCTV has come in behind them to make this happen. MCTV has been patient and unbelievably supportive.” Chapa says, “These three all have roles [in 3-2-1]. They love it and make an impact on the community.”

     While important and somewhat akin to being their profession, 3-2-1 Connection is only one aspect of the three’s lives that illustrate their success. They all finished high school, and they all attended Saginaw Valley State University as part of the ‘Think Cardinal’ program, a pathway for students with intellectual disabilities to have an inclusive college experience. 
Susan Drumright donning the 3-2-1 shirts with the show's tagline on the back.
     In addition, Amanda volunteers at MyMichigan Health’s gift shop and works as a photographer for a family business called Simply Special Photography. She began taking pictures for her high school newspaper and smiles when talking about her photos now being on notecards.“I really enjoy doing this,” she says. 

     Luke likes to cook and says, “Adam comes over for dinner all of the time, and Amanda comes over sometimes too.” He works at the Greater Midland Community Center helping instructors with swimming lessons. Luke has been swimming for most of his life and currently swims competitively for the USA Down Syndrome National Swim Team, qualifying for international competition in freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly.

     Adam also swims recreationally with this group. He works for the city of Midland’s Parks and Recreation Department doing everything from weed whacking and tree trimming to keeping the city’s parks clean. He says he enjoys working out, “especially lifting weights.”

     Corrion, who has been friends with Adam since kindergarten, says it’s important to help him [and Luke] develop a healthy lifestyle and be as independent as possible; Chapa concurs when speaking about Amanda.  
MCTV Control Room crew for "3-2-1 Connection"
    These three families and others were drawn together over 20 years ago through The Arc of Midland’s educational programming trying to support the schools. According to their website, “The Arc is a non-profit organization which promotes the general welfare of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and increases their presence, participation and inclusion in the community.”

       “It was hard,” Susan says, referring to the collective effort working with the schools to help shape the best educational experience possible for their children. “Down Syndrome affects their lives. They’re intellectually impaired, but they’re also individuals first.”     

     Similar to other young adults, Luke says they enjoy socializing and playing Mario Kart. He says the three of them have a group of friends who occasionally go out for dinner and dancing. And like his mom, Luke credits support from others. “Since I’ve been a baby, I’ve had lots of help. [For example], I had staff in college help me with homework,” he says. 

(L-R) Adam White, Susan Drumright, Kevin Heye, and Amanda Brown in MCTV Green Room
     According to Kim, “When people with disabilities turn 18, they qualify with Community Mental Health (CMH) to have assistance [in order to live as independently as possible].” Instead of going through an agency to hire people, this group of parents seeks them out on their own [like Chopa, Corrion and Curtis]. “We find these gems,” she says. Susan refers to them as “life coaches.”

     With respect to his job as a support person, his lifelong friendship with Adam, and his involvement with the program, Corrion says, “Luke, Amanda and Adam are the focus of 3-2-1 Connection, and we highlight them in their own roles. Each of them feels valued and a part of the team, and that is kind of the point of the show, to not only tell these stories each month, but also to show how three special individuals care and want to make an impact on their community. They want to participate and be part of a group, just like everyone else, and this show provides them another opportunity to do that.”

Readers may connect with 3-2-1 Connection at and through Facebook and Instagram. Programs may be viewed through MCTV access and YouTube    

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Read more articles by Amy Hutchinson.

Amy Hutchinson retired from the Midland Public Schools in 2018 after 32 years at Midland High School. During that time she taught Journalism and English, advised the student newspaper Focus, and served as department head of English and World Language, International Baccalaureate Coordinator, and Assistant Principal. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Central Michigan University and was a Gerstacker Fellow at Saginaw Valley State University. She volunteers for Midland County Senior Services and her church, the United Church of Christ. Amy works part-time at Eastman Party Store. She enjoys gardening, golfing, swimming, traveling, and cooking.