To the Editor:
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Jesse White Tumbling Team.
It is hard to believe it has been 60 years. Back in 1959, I saw the need for someone to step up and provide a positive alternative for at-risk children.
Over the past 60 years, more than 18,000 young men and women have performed with the Jesse White Tumbling Team. Many of these young men and women needed guidance and tough love. It is why I always insisted on enforcing strict rules designed to keep them out of trouble and in school getting good grades.
Now more than ever, the world needs positive role models who extend a helping hand to young people in need. This is what I have tried to do throughout my life. It is our responsibility as adults to do all we can to help give young people the best possible chance to mature into productive and responsible citizens.
When I try to measure the impact of the Jesse White Tumbling Team, I think of all the kids who have turned out to become outstanding citizens who are making a positive difference in society.
The Jesse White Tumbling Team still is going strong. This year, we have 225 young men and women performing on the team, many of whom are enrolled in college.
I could not have done this alone. So many people helped along the way. I will never forget them. In fact, the 60th anniversary of the Jesse White Tumbling Team is a reflection and recognition of the positive impact so many good people have had on my life from my youth all the way up to today.
Illinois Secretary of State and founder of Jesse White Tumbling Team