A Rivalry Week event created to honor the memory of an MSU student raises support for students at Michigan State and the University of Michigan.

Alex Powell had a dream: to attend Michigan State University. But as a senior in high school, that dream was threatened. Alex was diagnosed with cancer. When facing a year of tough treatments, including surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, others may have given up their dream. But Alex did not let his prognosis stop him. With help from the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, Alex was able to become a Spartan. 

As Michael Hudson, Director of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, puts it, "We are here when life happens." Many may not realize that the Center is able to assist students with chronic illness, such as cancer, in addition to disabilities such as hearing or vision impairment or learning disabilities. Specialists in the Center work with students and their families to alleviate issues that might prevent differently abled individuals from making the most of the college experience. In Alex's case, this included placing him in a dorm room close to his classes, assisting him with class accommodations, and providing support for Alex and his family. He was able to attend classes, tailgate with friends, campout with friends for Izzone basketball tickets, and have the full Spartan experience.

In the end, Alex's cancer progressed. He moved back home during his freshman year, and he passed away on Mother's Day at the age of 19. Through it all he kept his zest for life and his love of MSU. He wished for a legacy, to make a mark on the world that would leave it better than he found it. This legacy became Alex's Great State Race.

Each year on the Friday before the Michigan State University / University of Michigan Rivalry Week football game, ROTC cadets from the visiting school will run the game ball 64 miles to the host school. In a philanthropy rivalry element, supporters of both schools are encouraged to make donations to the programs that make college possible for students with disabilities at the institutions. Gifts benefit the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, the U of M Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, and the U of M Patient and Family Support Services at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. For the 2nd annual race, ESPN's College GameDay will be at the finish line, as they are broadcasting from Ann Arbor. 

As of this posting, MSU is at 145% of their $5,000 goal. Many of these contributions were inspired by the vandalism of a status of Magic Johnson on our campus. Rather than retaliate, Spartans have risen above and pledged to support students. 

Read more about Alex's Great State Race at http://alexsgreatstaterace.org

Alex Powell and Mark Dantonio

Alex Powell and Mark Dantonio. Photo: http://alexsgreatstaterace.org/

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