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Carrying the Special Olympics torch through Lansing

Members of the Lansing Swim Team will be heading to State this weekend

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (June 12, 2018) – If you were stuck in traffic on Burnham Avenue this morning, you may have wondered what all the sirens and flashing lights were for. Lansing police vehicles escorted members of the Lansing Swim Team as they carried the Special Olympics torch through Lansing.

In Lansing, the torch relay began at 175th with Cortez Blackful, who was accompanied by Coach Rose Taylor, who also happens to be his aunt.

Ryan Persenaire will represent Lansing in the backstroke and freestyle events at the Special Olympics state-level competition this weekend. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Blackful handed the torch to Ryan Persenaire, who was accompanied by Coach Bill Skarwecki. Skarwecki will be taking over as head coach of the team this year.

A block later, Joe Centracchio and Coach Tony Cusimano received the torch, and they ran it to sisters Estrella and Venus Aragon, who were accompanied by Coach Mike Burke and current Head Coach Dennis Sullivan.

The final handoff was from the sisters to Jacob Dragicevich, who was accompanied by Coach Mike Collins. That handoff was captured on video:

The torch-runners and coaches paused for photographs after handing the torch off to Calumet City Special Olympians. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Coaches, swimmers, and police escorts stopped for a group photo. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The team will be heading to Normal, Illinois, to compete in the state-level Special Olympics competition Friday and Saturday.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


  1. Congratulations to each and everyone of you on making the trip to Normal, Illinois for the Special Olympics. Enjoy the moment and have fun. We are all proud of you.

  2. Congratulations to each and everyone of you on making the Special Olympics swim team. We are proud of each of you. Enjoy the moment.

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