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Spartan Battalion: Race for Awareness

Nov. 11, 2015

One would be hard pressed to find a Spartan or Wolverine who don’t know exactly what happened during the last few seconds of the Oct. 17 football matchup in Michigan Stadium. But a matchup between the two schools that happened just prior to the game is just as noteworthy.

For the second consecutive year, a team of ROTC cadets from the Spartan Battalion and the Wolverine Battalion came together on Oct. 16 to participate in Alex’s Great State Race. The race is a 64-mile run from “Sparty” Statue on Michigan State University’s campus to the University of Michigan’s historic “Diag.”

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 RCPD for assistance.

The center helped Powell develop accommodation strategies and communicate his needs to each of his professors. Powell also established a connection to U-M during this difficult time, as he received cancer treatments there. Powell’s positive experiences with both institutions spurred his parents, Juliana and Steve Powell, to create the new annual tradition.

“We were fortunate to discover resources were available,” Juliana Powell said. “Our experience at both universities were outstanding with regard to their care and support, so we want to create awareness and funds that will help them continue their tradition of excellence in these areas.”

Spartan and Wolverine fans are encouraged to welcome runners at the “Diag” at noon on Oct. 16 as well as donate through the website, where they can choose the center to which they would like to donate.