MSUToday
Published: Oct. 4, 2018

In-state rivals work together to raise awareness for disabilities

Contact(s): Caleb Sandoval RCPD office: (517) 884-7273 sandova7@msu.edu, Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu

For the fifth consecutive year, a team of Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, cadets from the Michigan State University Spartan Battalion and the University of Michigan Wolverine Battalion will unite on Oct. 19 — kicking off the annual rivalry weekend — 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.

“It’s hard to believe this is the fifth year of Alex’s Great State Race,” said Juliana Powell, Powell’s mother and creator of the race. “I initially came up with the idea for Alex’s Great State Race to help me heal after Alex’s death and to honor his memory.”

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 to communicate his needs to each of his professors. Powell also established a connection to the U-M 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.

“I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this cause over the past five years,” Juliana Powell said. “We were very fortunate to find the right resources through MSU and U-M to help Alex achieve his goals and dreams while he fought cancer.  I am glad we have created an event that helps other families who may find themselves in similar situations. It is important 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 noon on Oct. 19 near Demonstration Hall Field, as well as donate through the “Alex’s Great State Race.”. Additionally, a collaborative fundraiser will be held the Saturday prior, on Oct. 13 at Zoobie’s Tavern’s OysterFest, with partnership from Brewery Vivant.

For more information about Alex’s Great State Race, visit the official website.

The Powell family, before Alex's diagnosis

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