‘Blind Side’ mom urges churches to get involved in the lives of children

June 4th, 2011

‘Blind Side’ mom urges churches to get involved in the lives of children

Published: June 4, 2011
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The woman portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the feature film “The Blind Side” lived up to her reputation as a no-nonsense, outspoken mom Wednesday.

Leigh Anne Tuohy spoke at the Arrow Child & Family Ministries Ambassadors luncheon, urging houses of worship and other organizations to get involved in the lives of children in the state foster care system.
photo – Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose family was portrayed in the feature film “The Blind Side,” stand with Mark Tennant, founder and CEO of Arrow Child & Family Ministries during a luncheon Wednesday at the Petroleum Club.

“I say to a group like this, ‘Man up, people. You’ve got the resources. You can change somebody’s life,’” Tuohy said.

Tuohy and her husband, Sean, were special guests at the luncheon held as a fundraiser for Arrow Child & Family Ministries at the Petroleum Club downtown. Organizers said the luncheon’s purpose was to raise support and awareness of the needs of foster and adoptive families in the Oklahoma City area.

Arrow founder and CEO Mark Tennant said his ministry is new to Oklahoma, but its leaders have been impressed with the many Oklahomans who are already working to help children in the foster care system and the foster/adoptive families caring for them.

He said there is a need for more aid, particularly from the faith community.

Tennant said Arrow’s church and community alliance is advising churches to “get in the game.”

“The kids need you.”

Sharing their story

Former tourism director, longtime broadcaster and author Jane Jayroe interviewed the Tuohys, who spoke to the luncheon audience about their motivation for helping their now-famous adopted son, Michael Oher. The Tuohys, of Memphis, Tenn., took in Oher when he was 16 and living on the streets. Oher’s journey to become part of the Tuohy family was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film “The Blind Side,” for which Bullock won the best actress Oscar. Oher is now a professional football player with the Baltimore Ravens NFL team.

The conversation with Jayroe was peppered with good-natured quips by the Tuohys as they talked about their journey with Oher, which Leigh Anne called “God-driven.” Their banter included jokes but also compelling stories about what it was like to adopt a youth whose life had been far from stable.

Leigh Anne Tuohy asked the audience to consider how many young people are not rescued from negative life circumstances because no one will come to their aid.

“If someone who is as immensely talented as Michael is so close to falling through the cracks, imagine who gets left behind,” she said.

Sean Tuohy said his family cannot take credit for all of the positive attributes that Oher displays today since they met him when he was an older teen. However, he said, Oher needed someone to provide him with opportunities for a better life, and the Tuohys provided that.

Willingness to help

Sean Tuohy said the family’s life-altering decision to provide a home for Oher came down to their basic willingness to help someone who obviously needed help. He said his wife spoke two simple words that placed them on a collision course with Oher as they passed him one day on the street.

“She said two words: ‘Turn around.’ So I challenge you, if this whole thing was started by two words, you can do something,” Sean Tuohy told luncheon attendees.

People who adopt children are the “heroes of our country,” Sean Tuohy said.

“We gave Michael a house and some love. There are a lot of houses and a lot of love.”

Leigh Anne Tuohy emphasized that becoming involved in a child’s life involves risk, but she said there are risks in everyday life that most people don’t think twice about. She said some people think helping only involves giving money, but many youths need the time and attention of a caring adult just as much or more.

“We could have given Michael a check, but he wouldn’t have become the young man he is today,” she said.