EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Two rivals. One common cause. MSU and UM are coming together before Saturday's game to support some people facing difficult life challenges.
Nearly 80 ROTC cadets from MSU and UM will be running from Ann Arbor to East Lansing Friday morning. It's all to remember and honor one very special student.
Running 20 miles is a daunting task, but it's one Kyle Meintsma, an MSU Cadet, is excited to do it.
"'Everyone loves doing this event. It's a highlight of the Fall semester for us," Meintsma said.
Meintsma and nearly 80 other cadets from MSU and UM will be putting their heated rivalry aside to take part in this pre-game-day tradition. Running from one campus to another for Alex's Great State Race.
Alex's race is a 64-mile run from UM's football stadium to Sparty on MSU's campus.
"We run the official game balls from wherever the game is not being played to wherever it is being played," said Caleb Sandoval, an MSU RCPD Ability Access Specialist.
The run started four years ago to honor and memorialize Alex Powell, an MSU student.
"All he wanted to be was a Spartan since he was a little guy," said Juliana Powell, Alex's mother.
Alex was diagnosed with cancer and received treatment at UM before passing away. The event raises awareness and money for students with disabilities at both universities.
For Alex's mother, the race is healing.
"The first year I was still very raw and emotional and knowing that it was benefiting somebody else, I was truly humbled by that and it's just awe-inspiring."
"They all realize that this event is something that really allows us to be our best selves for a day and put aside what really is almost a contrived conflict between two institutions," Sandoval said.
"There's no way we could do that by ourselves so we really put together as the MSU and UM cadets and we work together and we push through the pain and the miles and complete our journey," Meintsma said.