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Local chef starts charity race for narcolepsy

Chef Andre Royal Sr. is organizing the Suddenly Sleepy Sleepwalk to raise awareness for sleep disorders. Photo by Ellen Meny.

EUGENE, Ore.- A Eugene chef is working to create better support in Lane County for those who suffer from sleep disorders- and it all starts with a sleepwalk.

Chef Andre Royal Sr., who has narcolepsy, moved to Eugene several years ago. Once he started looking for support groups and medical help, he realized it was tough to find in Lane County.

"One of the things I discovered was that there was a deficit. There wasn't a whole lot of places, or really any for support groups," Royal says.

This inspired him to organize the Suddenly Sleepy Sleepwalk 5k. This is a kick-off event that he says will help him develop a local non-profit that offers resources and support for Lane County residents who suffer from narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

"They're looking for answers, and there isn't a whole lot here locally to accommodate that. So I'm just trying to be the change, and help facilitate that in my own way," Royal says.

Narcolepsy affects 1 in 2000 people, but the symptoms can be devastating. Symptoms can include excessive sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and sudden loss of muscle control.

The 5k follows Suddenly Sleepy Saturday, also known as Narcolepsy Awareness Day. The 5k will also feature a raffle with prizes from Chef Royal and Chef Toby Helms of Unami Sushi and Subo.

"So I just want to help create a conversation, so that people have a place to go and they can be welcomed and be informed," Royal says. "I just took the matter in my own hands to try and create that opportunity."

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