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. And 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 focuses you on making the most of every day and Alex was determined to 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 to 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 to enjoy those activities beyond the classroom that so 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 the Friday before MSU/UM game day, runners will arrive in the shadow of the storied University of Michigan “Big House,” culminating the 64-mile trek from East Lansing. The runners and race are a living legacy to a heroic young man and the organization that made it possible for him to become a Spartan.
MSU is rightly celebrated for our storied athletic traditions and the men and women who continually write new chapters in their history. Alex’s Great State Race reminds us of another powerful dimension of the Spartan ethic; that all who have 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 The Office of Support for Students with Disabilities at The University of Michigan.
“We’re here when life happens.” That’s how Michael Hudson, Director of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities articulates his mission. This is the foundation on which the RCPD stands tall. Ensuring its continued success is Alex Powell’s legacy.
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
East Lansing, MI 48824
*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 16CRFPR1ALEX” in the note section.