Skip navigation links

Oct. 18, 2022

Alex's Great State Race unites Spartans, Wolverines

Race to benefit students with disabilities from both schools in honor of former MSU student Alex Powell


Alex's Great State Race — the annual 64-mile race that illuminates former Spartan Alex Powell’s powerful legacy — will take place this year on Oct. 28, starting at The Spartan statue on the campus of Michigan State University and ending at The Diag on the campus of the University of Michigan. This will be the first race since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The race is a friendly rivalry between MSU and U-M, raising money in memory of Powell, who passed away in 2011 from cancer. 

Powell, who battled a rare and aggressive cancer, received his cancer treatments at the University of Michigan. He also had a dream of attending MSU. With the support of MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, or RCPD, and the University of Michigan’s Services for Students with Disabilities, or SSD, he achieved his goal. The two organizations strive to remove barriers for students with disabilities, and they guided Powell through his Spartan experience. His journey embodies strength and tenacity, and his legacy continues through Alex’s Great State Race.  

Logging more than 576 miles over the course of nine successful years and counting, runners lace up their shoes the day before the MSU vs. U-M football game to promote RCPD and SSD’s mission and to raise funds for MSU’s Alex Powell Spartan Experience Leadership Endowment and U-M’s Alex’s Great State Race Support Fund. These funds support students with disabilities, including those with mobility, learning, visual and auditory disabilities, brain injuries and various chronic health conditions. A team of Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from both universities run the football game ball to the university hosting the game. 

“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, Alex Powell’s mother said. “Life-changing events occur when we least expect them. We were very fortunate to find the right resources through MSU and the University of Michigan to help Alex achieve his goals and dreams while he fought cancer. 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.” 

Since the first race in 2014, the annual run has helped raise more than $213,000 in support of both the RCPD and SSD. To date, it’s raised more than $155,000 for the Alex Powell Spartan Experience Leadership Endowment.  

“We served as Alex bravely faced the unexpected and now this community rallies to ensure future Spartans find the care and collaboration they need,” said Michael Hudson, director of MSU’s RCPD. “I extend thanks to each person helping this tradition. Together, we are visible and meeting needs with solutions.” 

To donate directly to the Alex Powell Spartan Experience Leadership endowment fund, click here

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

By: Mark Bullion

Media Contacts