College Basketball

Purdue superfan Tyler Trent leaves behind legacy at Riley hospital

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.



Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

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