Backyard putting green a ‘symbol of victory’ over lymphoma for young Carmel golfer


For Lindsay Svarczkopf, the putting green recently installed in her backyard is much more than just a place for members of her family to practice their short game.

Rather, she sees it as a “symbol of victory” celebrating her 7-year-old son, Vince, overcoming Burkitt lymphoma, a rare and aggressive cancer. Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, which grants wishes of children facing critical illnesses, coordinated the installation of the putting green and officially unveiled it at a March 10 party at the Svarczkopf’s Carmel home.

“It’s very much a symbol of a very hard time that our family went through and that we’re on the other side of it, for the most part,” she said. “It helps us reflect back on where we were and where we are now and is something we can treasure together. It’s the culmination of his story.”

Make-A-Wish partnered with Hays + Sons to raise funds for the project, which was installed by Fort Wayne-based Who Doesn’t Putt. Vince, a first-grader at St. Pius X Catholic School in Indianapolis, originally asked for an entire putt-putt course in his backyard, but space limitations and other concerns led to a scaled-back project that he – and his parents and two sisters – can all enjoy for years to come. Vince approved of the final plans, Lindsay said.

Vince was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in April 2021 after an ultrasound revealed masses on his intestines and liver that had been causing stomach pain. He had surgery to remove a large mass and soon began chemotherapy. The cancer grows fast but is highly treatable if caught in time.

Thankfully, Lindsay said, Burkitt lymphoma is also treated quickly. Vince finished his treatments in July 2021 and was declared in remission in June 2022.

Jessica McBride, senior mission fulfillment specialist for Make-A-Wish OKI, said Vince’s wish was a unique request. But, because he’s been playing golf with his dad since he was old enough to hold a putter, it was one that made perfect sense.

“Vince went through so much in his treatment,” McBride said. “When he looks back on his cancer journey, he’s going to remember this party and this putting green instead of all the pain.”

Vince has already spent hours on the backyard putting green with family and friends, and he’s looking forward to many more. His assessment?

“It’s great!” he said.