EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Just a day away from the rivalry matchup on Saturday between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, a team of ROTC cadets from both universities came together Friday to run 64 miles and honor an MSU student who passed away from cancer.

Alex Powell died in 2011, the race named after him, “Alex’s Great State Race,” serves to honor his legacy.

It’s the ninth year the event has been put on and over 30 ROTC cadets from both the Spartan and Wolverine battalion put their differences aside to run in it.

“It’s kind of finding that common ground between the rivalry to just celebrate something like Alex Powell and Alex Powell’s legacy,” Vincent Motowski, Michigan State University, ROTC cadet said.

Both institutions had positive impacts on Powell’s life. During his freshman year, the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities accommodated his unique needs.

Powell also established a connection with U of M, where he received cancer treatments.

“It kind of celebrates those resources that kind of helped him along the way to give him the education he had,” Motowski said.

Powell’s mother Juliana is proud to expand the reach to others who have unique needs much like her son.

“Since the beginning of the inception of the event, we have been able to endow two fully funded scholarships at both universities,” Juliana Powell, mother of Alex Powell said.

Funds raised will support each universities student disability services.

“We are one kind of big community from Spartans and even U of M that is open and welcome to all walks of life,” Motowski said.

A group of students with disabilities will join cadets and run the last five miles of the race.

“It’s gonna let them feel involved and ingrained into the community,” Motowski said.

Cadets will finish the race around noon at U of M’s campus in Ann Arbor and say they couldn’t be prouder to carry on Powell’s legacy.