Jesse White Tumblers celebrate 60 years of somersaults

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Jesse White Tumbling Team celebrated its 60th anniversary Thursday.

WATCH: Jesse White Tumblers fly over ABC7's John Garcia
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Watch the Jesse White Tumblers catapult over ABC7 reporter John Garcia.

While White has a lengthy history in Illinois, including serving as secretary of state for 20 years, in the state House of Representatives, as the Cook County recorder of deeds, in the military and playing in the Cubs minor league baseball organization, he is also well known for founding the Jesse White Tumblers.

The group was created in 1959 and has performed around the world. They are divided into eight different squads who are able to perform about 1,500 shows a year. Members range from as young as 6 to the "veterans" in their early 20s.

For many, it's an opportunity escape possible negative influences in their lives. There are more than 18,000 alumni, and some, like Richard Blackmon, credit the group with guiding them down the right path.

Blackmon grew up in Cabrini Green and lost two of his brothers. One was killed by gang gunfire, he said.

The group celebrates Thursday with a Gala fundraiser on the South Side, where they will look back at the Tumblers' history.

Gov. JB Pritzker also proclaimed Thursday "Jesse White Day."

"Secretary of State Jesse White has set a tremendous example for all of us to follow - not just as a public servant, but as a neighbor, a mentor and a friend," Pritzker said. "On behalf of a grateful state, today we honor Secretary White's dedication to lifting up our youth, to giving hope and inspiration to so many parents and families, a cause that stretches back before he ever swore an oath of office."
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