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Caroline Gaynor: Guide for Visually Impaired Athletes (ep. 564)

Caroline Gaynor

John O’Leary welcomes Caroline Gaynor to the Live Inspired Podcast as she shares how serving as a guide for visually impaired endurance athletes has impacted her life.

Caroline Gaynor is a testament to the power of dedication, compassion, and human connection. As an accomplished triathlete, Caroline dedicates her talents to guiding athletes who are blind or visually impaired. Acting as their eyes during a race, Caroline spends upwards of 16 hours tethered to a blind or visually impaired athlete keeping them safe while swimming, cycling and running (and often isn’t credited in the results of the competition!).


Today, Caroline shares her journey in completing ten Ironmans as a guide, yet her story doesn’t end there. Hear Caroline explain how serving as an endurance athlete has helped her in her career, in raising her daughter, in caring for her mother with Parkinson’s disease and in loving others as they are.


My friends, let this conversation serve as a reminder that in life, sometimes you’re the guide to others, but other times, it’s someone else taking your hand and guiding you forward Yet, what we know to be true is that we can’t do life by ourselves.

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  • Hard work matters. Growing up, Caroline’s parents modeled a strong work ethic
  • Unclear of what inspired her, Caroline didn’t find her passion professionally until her 30s.
  • Since her first triathlon at 17 years old, training kept her motivated and focused.
  • “Having a piece of my identify that wasn’t tied to my professional life was paramount.”
  • Are you struggling with who you are? Caroline encourages to take inventory of the things you value and begin taking tiny steps towards those.
  • July 2008: After guiding her first athlete who was visually impaired, Caroline felt a shift in her life and her purpose.
  • When guiding an athlete during triathlon’s, Caroline is tethered during the swim and run portions and ride tandem during the bike portion.
  • It’s a partnership: As a guide, Caroline goes at the effort level the athlete can sustain.
  • “The women I race with have trained for the race. They are capable competent athletes. I’m not there to coach them.”
  • Ideally, a guide will be faster than the athlete when they’re having their absolute best day and the guide’s absolute worst.
  • “I find beauty in suffering. When you push yourself to the extreme physically, it allows you to see what you’re capable of. Then when you’re in tough situations emotionally, spiritually, personally or professionally, it helps you believe in yourself, be resilient and more successful.”
  • When sharing her story about guiding, Caroline emphasizes the capability the athletes who are visually impaired because they’re the most under-employed group.
  • “If I would have signed up for a race to race on my own, I would have cancelled. But when I had someone relying on me, it got me to train and it got me through difficult seasons of life.”
  • “Our worth isn’t measured by how much money we make, it’s the quality of relationships we have.”

Did you enjoy today’s conversation?

You’ll love my conversation with retired president of Starbucks Howard Behar. Howard shares lessons to nurture + inspire the human spirit through servant leadership, why leading with values is the best recipe for success and how this helped Starbucks grow from 28 stores to more than 15,000 during his tenure. Listen to Howard Behar on ep. 378 now.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The Glow by Jessie Gaynor.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. A better sense for my intelligence.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. An Ironman necklace my mom gave me after my first Ironman. I wore it for 10 years straight and it’s my good luck charm.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My mom before she had her cognitive decline from Parkinson’s disease.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. From my dad: Hard work matters more than talent.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. It’s going to be fine. It’s all going to work out.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. She made people feel valued.