Community to send Purdue student recovering from surgery to bowl game

CARMEL, Ind. (WLFI) — If you’ve been around Purdue Football this season, you may recognize his face. He’s not a player, but probably one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.

Tyler Trent is only a freshman at Purdue, but he’s overcome more than some have in an entire lifetime. In a few days, the Purdue community is sending him to Santa Clara, California, for Purdue football’s bowl game.

One week ago, Trent was finishing up his last final — a lab in systems analysis and design.

“That one was difficult for sure,” said Trent as he rattled off how he did in each class.

Two days after leaving Purdue for the winter break, he was at Riley Hospital for Children for his ninth surgery.

In 2014, Tyler was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

“We found out because I was playing frisbee and I broke my arm,” said Trent. “The tumor had just been eating away at my bone. So when I threw that frisbee, my bone was so weak it split the bone in half.”

Two years after his initial diagnosis, it came back again. But this time, right before he would start his freshman year at Purdue.

“That MRI showed there was a tumor on the inside of my pelvis, said Trent. “Throughout the semester, almost every week, I drove to Riley.”

But through the pain, he always had something to look forward to.

“For the Michigan game, that morning I drove down to Riley and got an IV infusion of chemotherapy and then drove back and camped out,” said Trent. “I’ve gotta protect my Ross Ade front-row streak!”

“I’m in 100 percent,” said Trent as he talked about his trip to watch Purdue play at Iowa. “If it means doing some crazy things people haven’t done before, I’m totally down to do that.”

That included going to Purdue’s bowl game no matter where it was.

Trent and his best buddy, like most Boilermaker fans, were hoping for a game close to home.

“We were banking on New York or Tennessee because we wanted to drive,” said Trent. “I had the idea of doing a GoFundMe type thing (to get there). But at the same time, I’ve been blessed with an incredible story. I didn’t want that to come across as I was exploiting my story for a game.”

So one of Tyler’s former high school teachers did it for him.

“She said, ‘Do you care if I start one for you?'” Trent said. “And I said, ‘Well I won’t stop you!'”

The page took off. His Send Tyler and Jake to Watch Purdue GoFundMe page had $2,000 in 24 hours after it was posted. The page ended with more than $4,500 in donations.

“It’s incredible — people’s generosity and willingness to help,” said Trent. “Everyone is going through something on some level. Everyone has their own cancer whether it’s literally or figuratively.”

Trent’s outlook on the game is as positive as his outlook on life.

“I’m predicting a Purdue win. I’d say 27-24.”

Purdue plays the University of Arizona on Dec. 27. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET.