As Spartan and Wolverine fans gear up for the annual in-state rivalry football game, the schools are issuing an off-field challenge that has them working together to see which university can raise the most funds and awareness for student disability services.
For the third consecutive year, a team of ROTC cadets from the Michigan State University Spartan Battalion and the University of Michigan Wolverine Battalion will come together on the day before the big game on Oct. 28 to participate in Alex’s Great State Race. The race is a 64-mile run from the U-M football stadium in Ann Arbor to the “Sparty” statue on MSU’s campus in East Lansing.
The event is an effort to raise awareness and funds for MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities and U-M’s Services for Students with Disabilities in memory of MSU student Alex Powell, who died May 8, 2011 from cancer.
As Powell contemplated his acceptance to MSU, a lifelong dream of his, he received the devastating news that he had a rare, aggressive form of cancer. During his freshman year at MSU, the disease began to take its toll, so he turned to MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities for assistance.
The center helped Powell develop accommodation strategies and to communicate his needs to each of his professors. Powell also established a connection to the University of Michigan during this difficult time, as he received cancer treatments there. The positive experience they had with both institutions is what spurred Powell’s parents, Juliana and Steve Powell, to create the new annual tradition.
“A life-changing event can occur at any time in our lives,” said Juliana Powell. “The outcome of those events depends upon the needed resources available. We were very fortunate to find the right resources through MSU and the University of Michigan. We received outstanding care and support from both universities. This event is designed to create awareness and funds that will help both universities continue their tradition of excellence in student disability services.”
Spartan and Wolverine fans are encouraged to welcome runners at Demonstration Hall Field at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 as well as donate through the “Alex’s Great State Race” website, where they can choose the center to which they would like to donate.