CARMEL, Ind. — The story of Tyler Trent, who passed away in 2019, captivated the nation.
On Monday, years after the Purdue University student battled cancer, his legacy lived on through a golf tournament that had 144 golfers in attendance, including some local celebrities.
Trent died of a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma on Jan. 1, 2019. His journey led him to become a national hero promoting childhood cancer research.
"You know, we always say, 'Tyler left us with something.' He did not want to waste his journey with cancer. His goal and his passion was to use it for good," said Trent's mom, Kelly.
Trent wanted to make an impact, and while he's no longer here physically, his push for change continues thanks to his parents, two foundations named in his honor and, of course, the community.
On Monday, dozens of people attended the second annual Tee Off for Tyler Charity Golf Classic at the Bridgewater Club in Carmel to raise funds for the Riley Children’s Foundation Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment and the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment.
Among those who attended the sold-out event were Purdue head football coach Jeff Brohm and a handful of Indianapolis Colts players, including one who has gotten to know the Trent family on a personal level.
"Going through the personal issues that my wife and I went through this year, his parents were there from every step going forward. So that really meant a lot to us. So I'm just honored to be here to support them and I know they're supporting us," Colts center Ryan Kelly said.
For Tyler's family, having so many people in attendance was a true testament to who Tyler was and the importance of his mission.
"It's a joy to know my son's life touched so many people," Tyler's dad, Tony, said, "and in return, all these people get to touch our lives because of just their genuineness, their gifts that they give to cancer research."
In 2021, the inaugural golf tournament raised over $100,000, with proceeds going directly to cancer research. And, at the opening ceremony of this year’s outing, the Trents presented a check for $25,000 to both foundations, with a goal to raise $100,000 like in the year prior.
"I think of Tyler and I can see him putting his head down and just shaking it in disbelief," Kelly added. "He didn't feel like he was anyone special, he just wanted to do something with his journey so the fact that people are willing to come be a part of our story with that, brings so much comfort to our family."
Tyler undoubtedly made an impact in life and continues to do so in death.
Two years ago, the IU School of Medicine for the first time published results of research done on tumors that Tyler donated. The article is posted in the international oncology journal "Cancers."
The reference "TT2" can be seen throughout the report and refers to cancer cell models from Tyler Trent. Researchers used a combination drug therapy that slowed tumor growth and improved survival.
Dr. Karen Pollok, who led the study, said Trent's advocacy had encouraged other families to donate tumor tissue. She told 13News in 2020 that her team was working with eight cancer cell models to test more widespread effectiveness of the combination therapy on relapsing childhood osteosarcoma.
A year after his death, donations in Tyler's name for cancer research at Purdue and Riley Hospital now totaled around $2.5 million.