Leigh Anne Tuohy, Subject of the Blind Side: "Take a chance and get out of your shell to help others"

November 15th, 2010

‘Blind Side’ mother stresses reaching out

Ryan Gerbosi/The Daily

Monday, November 15, 2010

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Leigh Anne Tuohy signs early childhood education senior Katie Jackson’s copy of Tuohy’s book, “In a Heartbeat,” Friday evening in the Union’s Molly Shi Boren Ballroom. (Neil McGlohon/The Daily)

Leigh Anne Tuohy challenged her audience to take a chance and get out of their shell to help others Friday night.

Tuohy spoke at the Delta Gamma Fraternity Lectureship in Values & Ethics in front of a standing-room only crowd in the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Molly Shi Boren Ballroom.

“The greatest thing is to give help without being asked for it,” Tuohy said. “Turn around and look because you will be amazed at the amount of people who could really use your help.”

Tuohy and her husband, Sean, famously took in and adopted Michael Oher, who later played college football at the University of Mississippi and currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens. Their story inspired the best-selling book and movie, “The Blind Side.”

“If you got up this morning, got dressed, and got to this room tonight, you are capable of changing a life,” Tuohy said. “All Michael needed was hope, opportunity and love.”

Delta Gamma hosts a different speaker biannually, according to Christina Hanvey, vocal music education senior and Delta Gamma Lectureship director.

Their first speaker was “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and in 2008 they hosted “Sports Center” anchor Linda Cohn, Hanvey said.

Hanvey said Delta Gamma got the idea for Tuohy to speak after discussing the movie “The Blind Side.”

“We got together and we were talking about the movie, catching up as girls,” Hanvey said. “When we got to business, we liked Leigh Anne [Tuohy] and we’re ecstatic she’s here.”

Tuohy said her appearances are in high demand around the country.

“I turn down as many as I accept,” Tuohy said. “We make sure that the group is making a difference and is truly involved.”

Tuohy felt that Delta Gamma fit her criteria.

“This lecture series they do is fabulous,” Tuohy said. “Their message transcends what we do, they want to give people a hand up and overcome obstacles.”

Prior to the lecture, a reception was held in Tuohy’s honor at the Delta Gamma house. The reception included a book signing for Delta Gamma members and their guests and a performance by the sorority choir.

The group then moved to the Union’s Molly Shi Boren Ballroom for Tuohy’s lecture.

Tuohy joked about her son, Michael, and his initial desire to attend OU.

“Michael came in and said ‘I think I want to go to college,’ and I said ‘what sport,’” Tuohy said. “Michael said ‘football,’ so I said ‘where at?’ And he said ‘the University of Oklahoma.’”

Ultimately, the distance between the Tuohy’s home in Tennessee and the OU campus kept Oher from becoming a Sooner, Tuohy said.

Tuohy emphasized that people must turn around and give other people a chance to do great things.

“If someone as immensely talented as Michael Oher can fall through the cracks, could you imagine who else is out there,” Tuohy said.

University College freshman Meggan Hinds said she was inspired by the speech.

“She’s a really inspirational person,” Hinds said. “It’s that real kind of inspiration, not just that everything’s perfect.”

Hinds hopes that OU students will be able to follow Tuohy’s message.

“I have faith in people,” Hinds said. “It’s a really inspirational message.”