Tyler Trent’s story continues to raise attention and funds for cancer research.
Trent, a Purdue super fan from Carmel, died Jan. 1 at age 20 after a courageous battle with bone cancer, which drew national attention.
Trent’s parents, Tony and Kelly Trent, were guests of U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) at the Feb. 5 State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.
The Trents’ visit began with a tour of the White House. They met with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, in the West Wing for 15 to 20 minutes.
“Tyler’s story has touched (Pence’s) heart. Regardless of what you believe in politics, he’s been an incredible person to our family,” Tony said. “He’s been genuine to us. He has loved us. The second lady has done the same thing.”
The Trents didn’t meet President Donald Trump, but they walked by an office when he was talking with his staff.
“It was surreal that I just walked by the president of the United States,” Tony said.
The Trents attended two parties before the speech, including one held by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“We got to meet with the secretary of health (Alex M. Azar II) and spoke to him a little about cancer research,” Tony said. “It was incredible for Kelly and I to hear the president in person talk about the appropriated funds for pediatric research getting ready to happen. We were really encouraged with that and want to continue to press forward in raising more money.”
Attending the State of the Union made Tony think of his late son.
“It truly embodied Tyler’s spirit and what it means to be an American and what it means to be a Hoosier,” Tony said. “He was hard-working. He was resilient. He had courage. He was determined. He had a never-give-up attitude. He faced death at a time and age when you shouldn’t have to face death. I thought of our soldiers, of what they gave up for our freedom and how they faced death at a young age. It just reminded me a lot of Tyler while I was there. I was just proud to be his father.”
A fund started in Tyler’s name for Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research recently topped $1 million, surpassing Tyler’s goal.
“It’s quite humbling and would have made Tyler smile and rejoice in the fact his life continues to mean something,” Tony said. “It’s overwhelming to see people partner with us and get on board with us to realize the importance of pediatric research.”
A book will be published by Tyler Trent on Purdue’s improbable Oct. 20, 2018 victory over then-No. 2 Ohio State, called “The Upset.” Trent had predicted the upset on ESPN.
Book sales will benefit the V Foundation, Riley Hospital for Children and Purdue’s Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment. The Trents also want to help cancer patients’ families in some way.
“Families go through a lot of heartbreak and a lot of turmoil, and we want to help some families with some things,” Tony said.
Tony said more than 8,000 copies of the book have been sold so far. For more, visit tylertrentbook.com.