DECATUR — Getting closer to home does something for Nicole Jeray’s game. The Berwyn-native began golfing at age 13. Now 46, Jeray is the oldest player on the Symetra Tour.
“I never thought I’d be doing it this long but it’s kind of been a roller coaster ride,” Jeray said.
Shortly after her professional career took off, Jeray began having health issues. She was constantly lethargic, needing multiple naps a day and even falling asleep on the golf course.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I saw many different doctors,” Jeray said.
“The doctors, they always told her, ‘You know what? If I had your lifestyle I would be tired too. Why don’t you go home to sleep?'” Nicole’s mom Brigitte Jeray said.
But Nicole’s condition was much more serious than a little sleep deprivation. After traveling all over the U.S. in search of an answer, Jeray was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy in 1996, a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by excessive daytime drowsiness.
“Since that diagnosis it’s been a roller coaster ride because not a lot of people knew about narcolepsy, they didn’t know how to handle it, medications weren’t very good back then,” Jeray said. “So it was just me trying to figure out how to handle it.”
Jeray manages her condition with medication and uses her platform to spread awareness of narcolepsy. Her campaign, ‘Swinging for Sleep’ raises money for every birdie she makes on tour.
“I don’t feel like I’m just playing for myself,” she said. “I feel like I’m playing for people with narcolepsy, the population that may be suffering from narcolepsy but they don’t have a diagnosis, they don’t know what’s wrong with them yet. I’m playing for that as well.”
And for a shot back on the LPGA Tour.