MSUToday
Published: Nov. 4, 2019

Spartan, Wolverine ROTC cadets run annual Alex's Great State Race

By: Madeline Kelly University Communications kellym35@msu.eduContact(s): Caleb Sandoval RCPD office: (517) 884-7273 sandova7@msu.edu, Kristen Parker University Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 klparker@msu.edu

For the sixth 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 Nov. 15 — kicking off the annual rivalry weekend — 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 flagpole within U-M’s Diag in Ann Arbor, with cadets carrying the football game ball throughout the entire journey.

The event is an effort to raise awareness and funds for MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, or RCPD, 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 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 U-M during this difficult time, as he received cancer treatments there. The positive experience the Powells had with both institutions is what spurred Powell’s parents, Juliana and Steve Powell, to create the new annual tradition.

“Creating Alex’s Great State Race has helped me heal after Alex’s death, while at the same time honoring his memory in a way that I believe he would be proud of,” Juliana Powell, Powell’s mother and creator of the race, said. “Life-changing events occur when we least expect them. 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 noon on Nov. 15 at “The Diag” on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor, as well as donate through “Alex’s Great State Race.”

Additionally, collaborative fundraisers will be held 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Nov. 13 at Buffalo Wild Wings locations in East Lansing and Ann Arbor. By presenting our flyer, 20% of each guests’ ticket will be donated to Alex’s Great State Race. Also, on November 15, at the Ann Arbor Pizza House, patrons can donate 15% of their checks to AGSR by mentioning the race. 

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

The RCPD was created in the 1970s as MSU's response for equal access to university education for all students. Over the years, the foundational services for students with mobility and visual disabilities expanded to include services for students who were deaf or hard of hearing, those with learning disabilities, brain injuries, psychiatric and various chronic health conditions.

Michael Hudson, director of MSU’s RCPD, said the RCPD is focused on assisting students, faculty and staff to overcome challenges they face and to maximize the ability and opportunity for full participation at MSU.

“Intent on helping students start strong at MSU, we are pleased to offer a new first-year seminar UGS110,” said Hudson, who is blind himself. “It is focused on health, wellness and resiliency and is helping students arrive into a well-connected and caring network that makes MSU feel like home.”

For more information about MSU’s RCPD, visit here