photo of ROTC cadets presenting game balls to Desmond Howard

For the second consecutive year, a team of ROTC cadets from the Spartan Battalion and the Wolverine Battalion came together on the day before the big game – Friday, October 16 – to participate in Alex’s Great State Race.

As Spartan and Wolverine fans geared up for the annual in-state rivalry football game, the two schools issued an off-field challenge that had them working together to see which university could raise the most funds and awareness for student disability services.

For the second consecutive year, a team of Army ROTC cadets from the Spartan Battalion and the Wolverine Battalion came together on the day before the big game – Friday, October 16 – to participate in Alex’s Great State Race.  The race is a 64-mile run from the “Sparty” Statue on MSU’s campus in East Lansing to the University of Michigan’s historic “Diag” in Ann Arbor.

The event is an effort to raise awareness and funds for MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, U-M’s Services for Students with Disabilities, and Patient and Family Support Services at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center 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.

“We never know when life changing events will occur in our lives” Juliana Powell, said. “The difference in outcomes may depend upon the availability of resources when needed. We were fortunate to discover these resources were available through Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our experience at both universities were outstanding with regard to their care and support. Our desire is to create awareness and funds that will help them continue their tradition of excellence in these areas.”

Spartan and Wolverine fans are encouraged to continue to donate through the “Alex’s Great State Race” website where they can choose the center to which they would like to donate. 

Visit the Alex's Great State Race Flickr photo album for more photos from the event.