A year later, Amy Bockerstette has still got this

Amy Bockerstette became a celebrity a year ago when one viral moment of her playing the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale with Gary Woodland went viral. Rob Schumacher/The Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jenny Bockerstette was sitting in a movie theater in Arizona alongside her husband, Joe, and daughter, Amy, on the Sunday of last year's Waste Management Phoenix Open watching "A Dog's Way Home" when her phone began buzzing.

She tried to ignore it. All she wanted to do was to continue letting herself get absorbed in the distraction of the movie for a couple of hours. The family had been in Cincinnati for a few days for Joe's father's funeral. When they returned to Phoenix, they just wanted to decompress. The week had been a roller coaster of emotions. Joe's father died on the Saturday night before the Phoenix Open, just hours after Joe flew from Cincinnati to Phoenix -- with his family's blessing -- to help Amy get ready for what would become a life-changing week.

Amy had a golf tournament with her Paradise Valley Community College teammates. Then, on Tuesday, she was scheduled to play the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale with Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar. The family would, on Wednesday, fly back to Cincinnati for the funeral.

That chaotic week topped a rough couple of months for the Bockerstettes as Joe's father's health began deteriorating. Joe, Jenny, their oldest daughter, Lindsey, and Joe's brother took turns traveling to Cincinnati to take care of Joe's father. The Bockerstettes didn't even put up a Christmas tree in 2018.

Sitting in the movie theater, Jenny's phone kept buzzing.

Video of Amy saying "I got this" before chipping out of the greenside bunker onto the green -- leading to her now-famous par putt -- had started to go viral.

SportsCenter had done a quick piece on Amy that Tuesday. Still, at that point, Amy had yet to become the nationwide sensation she is now.

But that, along with the Bockerstettes' lives, was about to change.

With her phone continuing to buzz, Jenny began to think something was wrong, so she left the theater to check it. Unbeknownst to her, the broadcast of the Phoenix Open had shown Amy's tweet that thanked Woodland, the PGA Tour, the Phoenix Open and the Special Olympics with a clip of her playing the hole. That meant Amy's Twitter handle was on national TV. People started to follow her. Each buzz on Jenny's phone was another notification.

Life was never the same.

Amy was a celebrity. And the Bockerstettes weren't ready.

"We really had no preparation for her celebrity at that point, so we had no wisdom around what might happen," Joe said. "We have much more today, frankly, than we did then. And, so, we weren't at all any good at predicting what might happen next."

Over the last year, which comes full circle Tuesday, Amy and her parents have traveled the country for her to play in golf tournaments, be a guest of honor and give speeches. Amy started a foundation, celebrated her 21st birthday and became a recognizable face. It started with a few people saying "Hi" to her at the airports to and from Cincinnati a year ago, and it hasn't stopped. A flight attendant asked her to take a selfie with him during a plane ride this summer so he could show his golf-playing friends, who, he said, would be jealous that he met Amy.

Joe summed up the last year in one word: whirlwind.

"It's been a great run," he said. "Very, very fun. Many high moments. The fun has been in the experiences enabled by this.

"She was destined to be chosen for this. That's the only way you can interpret what's happened."

Over the past year, Amy and her family have taken part in 29 events around the country -- while turning down just 10 invitations, Jenny said -- all of which met the family's criteria for agreeing to attend: "Is their mission consistent with our mission?"

That mission is to give back and bring attention to other causes, especially ones that focus on people with disabilities.

"We want to use Amy's celebrity to make other people's lives better, most immediately those with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities but, more broadly, anyone who sees value in Amy's achievement in their lives," Joe said.

Among the events they took part in this summer were the Special Olympics' 50th anniversary celebration at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; the ESPYs in Los Angeles, where Amy took part in the golf tournament, attended the pairings party, the Humanitarian Awards and the award show; being a grand marshal for the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix; participating in the Special Olympics Kansas Golf Outing in Fort Scott, Kansas, which Jenny said treated Amy like she was an "uber celebrity"; playing TPC Sawgrass, touring the PGA Tour headquarters and then going on the "Today" show in New York City with Woodland after he won the U.S. Open in June; and giving the keynote address at the National Down Syndrome Congress convention in Pittsburgh.

"It's time-consuming," Jenny said. "But it's worth it if we can make a difference for people with Down syndrome or people who have a better chance to be more included in anything, in school and sports and the like."

And it wasn't just the Bockerstettes' life that changed.

"Amy puts life in perspective real quick," Woodland said. "Her attitude, her perspective, her energy, it's so contagious. She obviously had dealt with Down syndrome, and she's turned it into a positive. I think that's the biggest deal.

"Life is not always perfect. You can take a negative and turn it into a positive and that's pretty special. And it's contagious. Her love and her attitude not only that day, but the videos she sends me, it's pretty special.''

It was a picture, however, that may have had the biggest impact on Woodland.

"My putting coach (Phil Kenyon) sent me a picture of her putt at impact, her stroke at impact. He sent me a screenshot," Woodland said. "He said, 'This is what you need to do.' That was great. It was literally the next morning. 'This is what you need to do. This is what you need to pay attention to.'

"So, she's helped me both on and off the course.''

Amy has become comfortable with her celebrity and understands the responsibility that comes with it, Joe said. She's been personable, likes to engage in conversations, loves to shake hands and is very approachable, especially with other people with Down syndrome. She gets recognized everywhere, from stores to airplanes to restaurants to golf courses. When people approach her for a photo and tell her they saw her video, she usually goes back to her parents excited that someone saw the popular video.

"That's the sort of innocence of her personality," Joe said. "The sincerity and innocence that comes with it. And every once in a while, jokingly, I'll say to her, 'I know, Ames, 43 million people have seen it.'

"But that's the wonder of Amy. I mean it honestly. I don't know if it's because of Down syndrome or not, but she has a sincere innocence. That just doesn't go away. That's very engaging for people."

Amy loves her fans, her father said.

Amy is who the world wanted -- who it needs, Woodland said.

"The world wants good stories," Woodland said. "We want happy stories. Sometimes it's all negative, it's all bad stuff. There's nothing bad about Amy. People love that. They want a little bit more love and positive energy and positive attitude.

"You try to give her a good time for that hole and it turned into a relationship and a lifelong classic relationship, which is cool. That's what is special about the whole deal. It wasn't just that one day. She's obviously had a positive impact on me, but it's something that will continue to grow and evolve.''

The last year has also been a learning experience for Jenny and Joe. They've figured out that Amy doesn't do well in question-and-answer situations but flourishes when she can give a prepared speech. They've learned that the bigger the moment, whether on the course or off, the more Amy rises to the occasion, Joe said. They've also seen Amy mature in ways that weren't there a year or two ago.

And they've figured out how to handle the day-to-day operation of Team Amy.

Joe handles the media requests and is Amy's caddie, while Jenny jokes that she's Amy's "manager." She handles Amy's social media accounts and is her scheduler. She usually is driving Amy to school, work and the gym. She goes to bed working on stuff for Amy and wakes up and starts again.

"The joke now is my work is my hobby and Amy's my job," said Joe, who added that his company had its best year ever in 2019.

But Amy's sudden rise to celebrity hasn't always been easy. It has surpassed 15 minutes by this point. She went from 22 followers on Twitter before last year's Phoenix Open to 7,128 currently. Initially, Jenny was unnerved after the Phoenix Open and then again after Woodland's win at the U.S. Open, when Amy was thrust back into the spotlight. She started noticing private messages flooding Amy's inbox, including a handful of unsavory ones from strangers. Jenny, who initially used Amy's social media accounts as a way to show the world that a girl with Down syndrome can live as close to a typical life as possible, initially stopped posting. She eventually restarted but has been keeping a close eye on the messages.

The Bockerstettes experienced the pitfall of celebrity firsthand.

"Feeling like you're a private person, or private family, to losing that sense of privacy," Jenny said. "And also when you have a daughter with a disability who is vulnerable, and protecting her is always at the forefront of our minds. If you see us out in public, one of us always has an eye on her."

Amy's words have become the name of her I Got This Foundation, but, the Bockerstettes have learned, they've also become a source of inspiration and hope for people around the country who have never met her. At her 21st birthday party in October, they heard the story of a man who doesn't play golf reciting Amy's "I got this" phrase to himself as he walked into an interview. Even Woodland believes Amy has had a bigger impact on him than he's had on her.

And while Amy's foundation is in its infancy, the goal is to grow from clinics every other month to hosting lessons and tournaments, and handing out grants.

Joe Bockerstette's father got what he wanted all along.

An avid sports fan, but not a golfer, he was one of Amy's biggest cheerleaders. While in bed in hospice during his final days, he asked the nurse to get ESPN on the phone, Jenny and Joe said. He wanted to tell them about how his granddaughter, who was a great golfer and happened to have Down syndrome, needed to be on SportsCenter.

Before he died, he knew Amy had an invitation to play the 16th hole with Woodland and Kuchar.

"I really felt like Amy had an angel on her shoulder on the 16th hole with my father-in-law," Jenny said.

Said Joe: "I would love for him to have lived another two weeks to see the video, but he got the outcome he wanted anyway. His goal in life was to get Amy recognized on ESPN and, more generally, in the sporting community.

"He died on the Saturday before the [Phoenix] Open. ... So, three days later it happened. So, probably not coincidental."