We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Houlihan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shannon, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
“If an opportunity does not exist, create one..” We founded Para Guide Foundation with the purpose of supporting adaptive athletes in the pursuit of accessibility, inclusion and equity. At the time of our founding in 2017, there wasn’t an organization providing sighted guides for adaptive (blind) athletes in Charlotte, a city with 9,000 visually impaired individuals. Access to movement matters. Equity matters. Opportunities matter. We are deeply committed to inclusion and to serving our 70+ athletes across the USA.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
One of the most important lessons we have learned over the years at Para Guide and something we are incredibly proud of (especially in the year 2020) is the value of adaptability and our ability to adjust to the circumstances. We obviously support adaptive athletes, and during the pandemic we have had to pivot quite a bit to support those that we guide, since it is impossible to guide someone from 6 feet apart! We have been able to provide in-home fitness equipment for 15+ new athletes since March, and shifting our focus to “Health at Home” has been a great success thus far. Movement is so important, and Access to Movement is critical for ALL people.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In any city, our favorite spots are always going to be outdoors! Any place where walking, cycling, or swimming are possible. In Dallas, our favorite Outdoor spot is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. There are a million delicious Mexican restaurants to choose from, but we will always go with the old stand-by, El Fenix, and order the El Fenix Dinner—my mother (Who went to SMU) and grandfather have been eating there since the 1960s.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Paul Harrold is the Co-founder of Para Guide Foundation. Without his tireless volunteer work and dedication to the visually impaired community, Para Guide could not do what we do 52 weeks out of the year. Paul is also a USA Triathlon Certified L1 coach, he is our lead bike mechanic, he has a family, and he works a full-time job in the IT world.

Website: www.paraguide.org
Instagram: Para_guide
Linkedin: Para Guide
Twitter: @para_guide
Facebook: PARA GUIDE.
Other: TIK TOK: @paraguide

Image Credits
Carter Wingfield, B.A.W Photography, Bruce Williams

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