Purdue superfan Tyler Trent leaves behind legacy at Riley hospital

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Purdue University superfan Tyler Trent died of cancer Tuesday night, but his legacy lives on at Riley Children’s Health hospital. 

The 20-year-old inspired the nation by continuing to attend Purdue sporting events and classes despite his illness. He was first diagnosed with a rare bone cancer in 2014. 

“Even when you know something is coming, it’s just a profound sadness and loss,” Riley Dr. Jamie Renbarger said.

Renbarger first met Trent in June 2017, after his relapse. 

The Riley team started planning treatment options with the Trent family. 

“He said, ‘I’m open to talking about whatever, but I am going to school in the fall. I’m going to be a freshman at Purdue and I’m going to live my life,'” Renbarger said. 

He didn’t just go to school. He became the Boilermakers biggest fan, even camping outside the Ross-Ade Stadium for a 2017 home game against Michigan. He often drove from Purdue to Riley for treatment. 

Purdue’s football team said Trent inspired them to pull of an upset against Ohio State last October. 

If you ask IU Health cancer researcher Reza Saadatzadeh, that inspiration is contagious. 

“Tyler is so close to me,” Saadatzadeh said. “When I am thinking about Tyler, I just consider that, ‘OK Reza, you have to work harder. If you can stay here one more hour, do it.’ Because that’s the legacy of Tyler.”

The Boilermakers named Trent an honorary football captain and he led the team in one stat: lives changed. 

Trent raised more than $100,000 dollars for cancer research at Riley through a dance marathon fundraiser. 

“Basically, he is encouraging everyone to just go forward and do something for the next person. The next patient,” Saadatzadeh said. 

He also left behind his cells and tumors for researchers to study. Because Tyler dreamt of a day when cancer can’t keep anyone from their passions. 

“We’ve really lost a partner and a friend that can’t be placed,” Renbarger said. 

Purdue University and a Carmel church have scheduled events to honor Trent’s life.

College Park Church, 2606 W. 96th St., will have a funeral service at 6 p.m. Tuesday. There will be no visitation prior to the funeral, but funeral guests will be welcomed to a reception following the service. A guest book also will be available in the church’s atrium. The funeral will be livestreamed.

Purdue University announced Wednesday that a candlelight memorial will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday outside Hovde Hall to honor Trent’s life, the lives of all people battling cancer and the researchers seeking a cure. The event had initially been scheduled for Tuesday night.

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