Five years have passed since the first Alex’s Great State Race, and the event is still running strong. It all started with a student diagnosed with cancer and turned into a bond between two rival colleges coming together in his memory to make a profound difference for students with disabilities.
University of Michigan’s Children’s Hospital helped Alex Powell with his cancer treatments before his fall semester in 2010 and his spring semester in 2011, while MSU worked to give him the college experience every freshman deserves. After Alex’s unfortunate passing, the ROTC and disability services offices of the two universities came together with his family and friends to find a way to memorialize him.
Eventually, they came up with another tradition for the rival football game between MSU and U-M. The decision was made to run the game ball from the visitor’s stadium to the stadium where the game would be played.
On the fifth anniversary run on October 2018, the runners included ROTC members of both schools, then Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. Calley and Bernstein are alums from MSU and U of M respectively, with Calley running on the right and Bernstein on the left.
"U-M is happy to have this collaborative effort to work with MSU on Alex's Great State Race so that we are able to raise funds for students with cancer from both schools,” said Jill Rice, Coordinator from Services for Students with Disabilities at U-M. “Last year, our office was able to help a student with some of his tutoring costs. The committee members are very supportive of each other - Friends on Friday and Rivals on Saturday. U-M is looking forward to this being the 6th year of our mutual collaboration."
There were 300 people waiting at the landing point in 2018 – Spartan Stadium. It included a crowd of Glee Club men from both universities, ladies from the MSU Delta Gamma sorority, MSU Tower Guard sophomore honor society members, and family and friends of the Powell family.
Because of the planning and determination of the Race Committee, MSU and U-M ROTC, RCPD and SSD staff, and everyone who provided emotional and monetary support, the Race grows in size and visibility each year. In 2019 the run is from MSU to The Big House in Ann Arbor.
Looking ahead, AGSR Committee co-chair Caleb Sandoval said, “This event has earned a permanent and honored place within the Gameday fanfare and tradition. It exemplifies and champions all the good we can do when we work together toward a common goal, no matter the obstacles set in our way.”
By the tenth year, the goal is to be able to run the ball onto the actual playing field in the respective team’s stadium.
To find out more about Alex’s Great State Race or see how you can become a part of this great tradition, visit http://alexsgreatstaterace.org/