by Erin Surge

You’d have to live under a rock to have not heard even a little something about the rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. However, we mostly hear about the nasty pranks and childish insults thrown between the two. (I mean, really, how many articles about the stake thrown into the middle of Spartan Stadium by a Wolverine must we share on Facebook?) Something much greater than any of that was happening on October 24th, 2014.

Alex Powell was an adventurous, determined young man with dreams of attending MSU. During his senior year of high school, he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and an outlook that appeared bleak. However, with the help of MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD), Alex was able to make his dreams a reality and make the last few years of his life the best; he even got the opportunity to work with the football program alongside Coach Mark Dantonio. Unfortunately, Powell lost his battle to cancer on May 8th, 2011. His parents, however, were determined to honor his memory and support the organizations that made his dreams come true. That’s why this year marks the beginning of a new tradition called Alex’s Great State Race.

This joint MSU/U of M effort fulfills their wishes. On October 24th, 2014 a few ROTC cadets from both universities ran the game ball from the Big House in Ann Arbor all the way to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing in Alex’s memory. Donations to support MSU’s RCPD and U of M’s Office of Services for Students with Disabilities exceeded the $10,000 goal mark and are still climbing at $17,000. Such generous donations will help fund the programs that encourage so many disabled students to pursue a higher education and accomplish their goals. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that we can put our differences and petty school rivalries aside for the common good.

For more information about Alex Powell and Alex’s Great State Race, visit the following pages: Alex’s Great State Race – Give Now and The Detroit Free Press – Michigan State-Michigan Rivalry Race Honors Cancer Victim Alex Powell.

Erin Surge is an undergraduate student attending Michigan State University where she studies Professional Writing: Digital and Technical Writing and Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies. An active member of the Honors College, she is involved in several other student groups on campus and hopes to branch out into the East Lansing community. Erin enjoys humanitarian work and believes in equal opportunities for everyone, and after graduation she hopes to pursue a career in environmental policy to raise awareness about areas in need.