NFCA 'Athletes for Awareness' tracks standout sportspersons who prove that having celiac disease can't stop you from succeding on any athletic stage!
Sarah Jane Kenyon is a member of the LPGA tour and has joined NFCA as an official spokesperson!
Sarah is a native Australian and started playing golf at the young age of 12. She quickly showed promise and by age 13 she was competing in tournaments all across Australia. In 2002 she was the Australian Junior Champion and in 2003, winner of the Queensland 72-hole Championship. She finished 10th in the 2004 Australian Open and competed in the 2006 U.S. Women's Open Championship. Now, at 23, Sarah is competing as a member of the LPGA tour.
Pretty impressive isn't it?! What's even more impressive is that she manages to keep up with the rigors of the LPGA tour all while managing a gluten-free diet!
Sarah only recently began experiencing symptoms of celiac disease. Her symptoms included gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches and severe fatigue, none of which allowed her to perform at her best while on the professional golfers tour. Luckily, Sarah knew what might be happening — her mother, Sharon, has celiac disease, so when the symptoms appeared, it took no time at all to figure out the cause!
"I started feeling poorly whenever I ate ‘normal' foods, like bread and pasta," said Kenyon. "Since my mother has celiac, I knew right away that I might be susceptible because the disease is genetic. Since I started on a gluten-free diet, I've felt much better."
With a cure to her problems in place, Sarah is speaking out to help other athletes in the United States get diagnosed and manage a successful gluten-free diet while on the go!
Before Sarah knew what was causing her distress, she says she lived on Panera and Quiznos while traveling to tournaments. Now she says she has to plan ahead. She always keeps fresh fruit, vegetables and rice cakes with her on the golf course and says she is lucky that the LPGA tour organizers always keep healthy foods on hand for the players to eat.
However, Sarah was sure to say that the United States is nothing like her home country of Australia.
"In Australia, there are tons of gluten-free options! There are bakeries and restaurants and even Starbucks has gluten-free food!"
The bottom line she says, is that people in Australia truly understand the disease and in turn there are an abundance of delicious gluten-free food options.
As the Athletes for Awareness Spokeswoman, Sarah will wear the NFCA logo on her apparel and golf bag throughout the LPGA tour season and will work to promote awareness among fans and at events sponsored by the NFCA.
* Sarah was married in January 2009 and now goes by the name Sarah Jane Smith