Purdue quarterback David Blough talks about Tyler Trent's impact on the football team after his funeral at College Park Church in Indianapolis. Indianapolis Star
The parents of Tyler Trent, whose battle with cancer inspired far beyond his home state of Indiana, will meet Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday and attend the State of the Union address that evening.
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks invited Tony and Kelly Trent to President Donald Trump's address, saying she was moved by their son's story. The Purdue University student died Jan. 1 at the age of 20, after his third battle with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
His positive attitude in the face of terminal cancer generated awareness -- and donations — from across the country in the fight against the disease. The dedicated Purdue football fan was the subject of ESPN features; received Indiana's highest civilian honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash; and won Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, given to college football's most inspirational individual or team.
"I thought the country could use an uplifting message and an uplifting story around the State of the Union when we seem to be so focused on our problems," Brooks told IndyStar, "whether it's with the government shutdown or what the State of the Union is."
Brooks was able to bring one guest to the State of the Union, but a U.S House colleague, New York Democrat Kathleen Rice,gave up her guest spot so both of Trent's parents could attend. The couple will meet with Pence beforehand at the White House.
Brooks said she spoke to Tyler Trent by phone shortly before his death, sent him an American flag and made an entry into the Congressional Record in his honor.
He also received attention from other politicians, including Gov. Eric Holcomb and Trump, who in December wrote Trent a letter.
Tony Trent said that if his son were still alive, he would be in awe and humbled at his parents' invitation.
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"It's an incredible opportunity and an incredible blessing to go and be a part of it regardless of if you agree or disagree with politics," Tony Trent said. "It's an amazing opportunity to be in the White House … to think about our forefathers and the founding of our country."
The Trents want their son's legacy to live on: They're selling his book, "The Upset," at www.tylertrentbook.com. A portion of the proceeds will go toward cancer research and families battling cancer.
Call IndyStar Statehouse reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.