We never know when life will place challenges in our path. And often, it happens when we least expect it.
Alex Powell was a high school senior, a dedicated student, an enthusiastic athlete and a natural leader. His smile radiated confidence and his heart held the dreams that every one of us hopes will come true for those we love. There were no outward signs that the future was anything but bright for Alex. His senior pictures depict a strong, vital young man with his mother’s eyes and his father’s confident bearing. Our lives can be profoundly changed in an instant. And so it was with Alex Powell. A rare, aggressive cancer was growing inside of him. As Alex contemplated his acceptance at Michigan State University, he knew that his remaining earthly journey would be brief and each day would slowly peel away his strength.
A cancer diagnosis makes you focus on making the most of every day and Alex was determined to participate fully participate in his Spartan experience. As the disease began to take its toll, he turned to MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.
He discovered that the center served a large student population, many with challenges not visible to the eye, but all sharing the same desire: to learn and grow despite conditions that some would define as insurmountable. RCPD helped Alex reap the maximum benefit that an MSU education has to offer. As his physical needs increased, the center continued to make it possible for him to ponder the mysteries of science, appreciate the beauty of the written word and enjoy those activities beyond the classroom that mix to create a Spartan.
Alex never lost his zest for life. He faced its end with courage, humor and a resilience that amazed and inspired all who had come to know him. He also shared the ultimate dream that lives inside each of us: to create a legacy, to leave the world in better shape than he found it. That legacy lives on through “Alex’s Great State Race.”
On October 28, 2016, the Friday before the MSU/UM game, University of Michigan and MSU ROTC runners will depart in the shadow of the storied University of Michigan “Big House,” and after a 64-mile trek from Ann Arbor to East Lansing will arrive at MSU’s Spartan statue near Spartan Stadium. The annual race and its runners celebrate a heroic young man and the organization that made it possible for him to become a Spartan.
MSU is rightly celebrated for its storied athletic traditions and the men and women who continually write new chapters in that history. Alex’s Great State Race reminds us of another powerful dimension of the Spartan ethic: that all with the capacity to learn have access to the finest education possible.
Donations in celebration of this symbolic partnership between two elite educational institutions will help support the work of the RCPD at MSU and its sister organization at U of M.
“We’re here when life happens.” That’s how Michael Hudson, director of the RCPD, articulates his mission. This is the foundation on which the RCPD stands tall. Ensuring its continued success is Alex Powell’s legacy.
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East Lansing, MI 48824
*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 17OOPCF1ALEX” in the note section.