Aaron Lai walked three days to the Indiana-Purdue basketball game in Bloomington to raise money for cancer research.
Purdue student and superfan Tyler Trent died in January after battling cancer, but his memory is still being honored by a fellow Boilermaker.
Aaron Lai, a junior at Purdue, decided to honor his late grandfather and Trent by walking 100 miles from West Lafayette to Bloomington ahead of Tuesday night's Indiana-Purdue basketball game. He tweeted out updates over the course of his three-day journey, which started on Sunday at 7 a.m. at the Delta Chi Fraternity House on Purdue's campus.
Lai's fraternity brothers took turns driving to meet him on his journey and deliver him food, water and dry shoes, reports WLFI.com.
The junior was inspired by Trent's story and perseverance to fight cancer despite never meeting the superfan.
"It really hit home. My grandfather never really let cancer show in him," Lai told the Journal & Courier. "He would always live his life without thinking he had cancer. Tyler was similar. Tyler didn't live like he had cancer."
Lai's grandfather, Chai Dechang, died of lung cancer two years ago, according to the Journal & Courier. The Purdue student set a goal to raise $10,000 for Tyler Trent's Cancer Research Endowment on GoFundMe.
On Tuesday, Lai called the pain in his feet "unbearable" on Twitter and said he started running with 25 miles left in his journey to ensure he'd arrive at the game on time. He made it just 40 minutes before the 7 p.m. ET tip off at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, where he met Trent's parents.
"It [was] humbling to honor your son," Lai tweeted after meeting them.
Here's a look at his journey.
And so it begins! @LifeAtPurdue student Aaron Lai (@alai2016) is walking 100 miles from his campus to @IUBloomington ahead of this week’s basketball game in honor of @theTylerTrent - we’re talking with him on #WTHRSunrise @WTHRcom - https://t.co/EdUIjG8GmE pic.twitter.com/nWX9Bj8Prn— Anna Carrera (@AnnaWTHR) February 17, 2019
Reinforcements have arrived! Brothers from @DeltaChiPurdue are rotating to meet @alai2016 every few hours with water, food and dry shoes. Four hours in and he’s already to Romney. Give him a honk or a wave if you’re driving US 231! @WLFI pic.twitter.com/7hlLlOhLJo— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) February 17, 2019
Safely arrived at my first stop 33miles in! Thank you guys for all the love and support! I’m proud to announce that we have SURPASSED our goal. I’m so humbled and grateful. Two more days and I’ll be at @IUBloomington #TYLERSTRONG #BoilerUp #NeverGiveUpT2 pic.twitter.com/FImNklWyws— Aaron Lai (@alai2016) February 18, 2019
Day 2: 9am-12am, Barely made it to Mile 65 in Coverdale. Pain was unbearable for the last 5 miles but the people that supported me on the way motivated me. This is for you, @theTylerTrent and Grandpa.#TylerStrong #NeverGiveUpT2 @LifeAtPurdue @IndianaUniv https://t.co/DcL3u62m8a pic.twitter.com/Gu6T2kXfXu— Aaron Lai (@alai2016) February 19, 2019
Trent passed away on Jan. 1 after battling bone cancer. He enrolled as a student at Purdue in September 2017, but had to leave school during the fall of 2018 after osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer identified in his spine, intensified. The 20-year-old became a heartwarming fixture within the Boilermakers' season and the college football world after predicting the team's win over then-No. 2 Ohio State in October.
Purdue beat Indiana 48–46 on Tuesday night. At the time of publish, Lai had raised over $21,000 in memory of Trent.