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Scott recalls heartwarming 'bucket list' meeting with fan's grieving parents

Scott (center) with Stephanie Wetzel's parents, Jack and Mary, during the 2013 BMW Championship.

September 12, 2013

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

CHICAGO- Stephanie Wetzel’s life started with a bucket list. It ended with a hope list.

At the age of 14, the Illinois native was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune condition whereby the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself.

Described by her parents Jack and Mary as both extroverted and optimistic, Stephanie lived a charged life with neither reservation nor regret. Nothing she managed to accomplish surprised anyone who knew her.

So, when she drew reigning Masters and Barclays champion Adam Scott’s name from her bucket list two years ago, all anyone could do was sit back and watch.

“She said, ‘well, I’m going to do this. I want to meet Adam Scott’,” laughed Stephanie’s father Jack. “So, she emailed his PR people, which made its way to the PGA TOUR. Somehow, the arrangement was then made for the two to meet at the 2011 BMW Championship.”

Her folks reflect on the meeting like a play-by-play of something happening right before their eyes. “He was so wonderful,” said Mary. “He talked to her for a good five minutes, laughed with her and had his picture taken with her. I was amazed at what a gentleman he was.”

Mary Wetzel wears a photo commemorating Scott's 2011 meeting with her daughter, Stephanie.

At the time of the 2011 meeting, Stephanie had undergone two kidney transplants, in 2002 and 2010. As fate would have it, the second transplant turned out to not be a match. She would live her remaining years on dialysis, in and out of a wheelchair.

 “It was so heartwarming and impressive that someone like Adam would take the time out of his life to essentially make another person’s life – or at least make a big part of - better,” said Mary.

Not feeling well on April 18 of this year, Stephanie’s family took her to the doctor. Her body was fighting an infection it would not win. Early the next morning, her condition worsened. Her demeanor did not. It was then when she shared a book of notes with her family, her hope list. In it was a very detailed list of how she wanted her funeral to look, feel and transpire. On Saturday, April 20, Stephanie died at the age of 40.

At this week’s BMW Championship, Stephanie’s mother and father came to Conway Farms Golf Club in hopes of seeing Adam, and perhaps getting a moment of his time to thank him. They wanted him to know their daughter lived long enough to see her hero win the Masters. Without hesitation by Scott, the Wetzel’s got their wish.  

As he had done two years earlier, Adam took the time to visit with the Wetzel’s, an opportunity he said he wouldn’t have missed.

“Not only did meeting Stephanie a few years ago give her something to remember, but it was so little on my part to make someone happy,” the 10-time PGA TOUR champion said. “It’s an amazing position to be in. After what her parents have been through, to have a chance to meet them is the least I could do. But, it’s something I was so happy to do. I cannot imagine the struggle they go through every day. “

“He was such a gentleman and so caring to initially see Stephanie, and then us,” said Mary on Wednesday. “That makes all of this even more special for our family.”

Stephanie experienced her last few days on earth watching Adam win at Augusta. When he won at The Barclays three weeks ago, her parents said she pulled off an even greater feat.

“We know her,” chuckled Jack. “We know she was up there in heaven blowing everyone’s putts off line.”

Everybody except Adam’s, of course.

 “Her parents tell me how lucky Stephanie felt to get to meet me,” said Scott. “But, it was so nice for her to come out here and pursue me like she did. Truly, the honor was mine.”

One of the items on Stephanie’s wish list she shared the day before her death was to have butterflies released at her funeral, symbolic of renewed life.                                                                                       

Her parents noted that not everything on Stephanie’s bucket list reached fruition. The meeting with Scott, however, left an indelible mark she’d wear on her heart until the end, and take with her as she began again.

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