ESPN’s College Gameday is one of the premier sports talk shows in the world.
Every Saturday in the fall, the show previews the biggest college football games across the country and tells some of the most heart-warming stories from inside the college football world.
On Oct. 20, ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi came through with a story that has touched millions of lives since it aired.
The Tyler Trent story is one that brings a combination of sadness and hope that has inspired many to join the fight against cancer.
Millions of people tune into ESPN’s College Gameday every Saturday morning and millions saw the Tyler Trent story. One of those was Yukon resident Wes Jameson.
Jameson was touched by the story. He said he immediately asked himself how he could help. Then, the idea of a Tyler Trent bobblehead came to mind.
“After I saw that Gameday special, I just felt a strong pull to do something to help,” Jameson said. “I have always loved bobbleheads, so I thought why not?”
Jameson contacted Phil Sklar, the Bobblehead Hall Of Fame CEO and Sklar told him if he got approval from Tyler and his family and Purdue University, they would be on board.
“I was really excited about the idea when Wes approached me about it,” Sklar said. “I had seen a little bit about Tyler and we had several projects going on, so we were a bit pre-occupied. But Wes filled me in on Tyler’s story and I knew right away that it was a bobblehead that we had to do.”
Jameson attempted to reach Tyler and his family on Twitter for several weeks and on Nov. 4, he got through to Tony Trent, Tyler’s father. Tony liked the idea and asked for a day talk it over with his son.
Tyler loved the idea. The next step was contacting Purdue to get them on board because the Boilermaker logo would be on the bobblehead. Purdue agreed. The Tyler Trent bobblehead was born.
“Once I was able to get through to Tyler and his family, his dad said he liked the idea and asked for a day to talk it over with Tyler and the rest of the family,” Jameson said. “Once he told Tyler about it, Tyler was all for it.”
Tyler was invited to the College Football Awards Show after the end of the regular season and had the chance to meet Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray, as well as Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.
Tyler said he enjoyed meeting the Oklahoma coaches and players. He said Gundy was funny as expected but meeting Riley and Murray was amazing.
“I have College Gameday on in the background on Saturday mornings during the football season when catching up on bobblehead-related work, so I caught Tyler’s story,” Sklar said. “It was one of those that captured a lot of people’s attention. Then, that night when Purdue upset Ohio State, Tyler’s story really started to take off.”
The Tyler Trent story
At age 15, Tyler was playing a game of Frisbee with his friends when he broke his right arm while making a throw.
After a visit to the doctor, Tyler and his family learned that he had bone cancer. In October 2014, Tyler had surgery to replace the top half of his right arm with titanium.
Tyler went through nine months of grueling chemotherapy and then was cancer free for the next two years.
Two months before entering his beloved Purdue University on a presidential scholarship, the cancer returned. He was determined to be at school on time and after hearing the news on his cancer, he repeatedly told his doctors he was going to be at Purdue on time.
In September 2017, Tyler had surgery to replace his pelvis. Eleven days later, he started school on time. Tyler, a Purdue football super fan, made sure he had tickets to the Michigan game at home that year.
He camped out and was first in line to make sure he had a front row seat to watch his Boilermakers take on the Wolverines.
The Purdue football program took notice of Tyler’s story and had him join them on the field as an honorary captain during the 2017 season and made sure he was there in attendance when Boilermakers opened the 2018 season.
This fall, Tyler’s cancer had spread to his spine and he was forced to leave school. He is home now, at 20 years of age on hospice care and is terminal.
After Purdue beat Nebraska on Sept. 29, the team came to visit him at home and surprised him with the game ball.
As Oct. 20 approached and the Boilermakers prepared to take on then second-ranked Ohio State at home, Tyler predicted that Purdue was going to pull off the unlikely upset of the Buckeyes.
Not many people gave the Boilermakers a chance in the game, but Tyler’s prediction came true and Purdue not only beat Ohio State, but manhandled the Buckeyes 49-20 as Tyler watched from inside the stadium.
Jameson also reached out to ESPN Sportscenter anchor Scott Van Pelt and college basketball analyst Dick Vitale through his connections with ESPN and Purdue. He also reached out to the College Gameday producer in hopes that they could unveil the Tyler Trent bobblehead on the show.
ESPN agreed and unveiled the bobblehead on College Gameday in Columbus, Ohio, prior to Ohio State/Michigan game.
“I hope the bobblehead’s message mimics Tyler’s messages of perseverance, passion, determination and everything else that Tyler stands for,” Sklar said. “They have raised more than $7,500 so far for cancer research. In addition, the bobblehead has raised a lot of awareness about Tyler, cancer and cancer research. It will also serve as a reminder for a long time as people display it and share Tyler’s story.”
The Tyler Trent bobblehead costs $30 and five of those dollars go to cancer research. $3 goes to the Jimmy V Foundation and $2 goes to the Tyler Trent Purdue Cancer Research Foundation.
The first time Tyler saw the bobblehead, he started crying.
“We wanted to make sure and do this right,” Jameson said. “Tyler and his family were happy with the bobblehead when they first saw it, and that is what is important.”
To purchase the Tyler Trent bobblehead, go to https://store.bobbleheadhall.com/products/tylerstrong?variant=13797596102719