Real life ‘Blind Side’ couple to speak at Mike Miller Classic banquetThe story of kindness, giving and love that swept the nation and later broke out on the big screen will be told Wednesday at the Corn Palace.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
The lives of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy changed in a heartbeat.
The Memphis, Tenn., couple is famous for taking in eventual NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher and inspiring the blockbuster film “The Blind Side.” Their life-changing moment was a split-second decision to welcome a young, homeless Oher into their home and hearts more than 10 years ago.
“This whole thing basically started when my wife told me to turn around,” Sean Tuohy said in a telephone interview with The Daily Republic. Leigh Anne Touhy had seen Oher sitting in the school gym. “It wasn’t some grand scheme. Two words changed our lives, and it happened in a heartbeat.”
That story of kindness, giving and love that swept the nation and later broke out on the big screen will be told Wednesday at the Corn Palace, as part of the Mike Miller Classic Kick-Off Banquet.
The banquet begins at 6 p.m. Tickets to hear the Tuohys speak are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are available at www.cornpalace.com or at the Corn Palace box office. The food portion of the banquet is open only to sponsors and participants in the Classic.
The Tuohys’ story, which was made famous through Michael Lewis’ book and the Hollywood film starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, will be told in more detail at the event.
“People always want to hear the behind-the-scenes stuff about the movie,” Tuohy said. “It’s of interest; we don’t understand why 70 million people want to hear about it, but they do.”
In addition to discussing their well-known story, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy hope to motivate and challenge attendees to do some good of their own.
“It certainly opened up our eyes to the problems of the world,” Tuohy said of welcoming Oher into their family. “But we also know we can’t solve them all. We never set out to solve all the world’s problems. We just set out to help a kid.”
The effect the Tuohys had on Oher is an effect they want the nation to feel.
“We ask that people don’t solve all the world’s problems — just solve something. You never know where it will lead,” Tuohy said. “We will challenge people that night to do something. It doesn’t have to be something that people will spend $300 million to see. It can be enough walking down the hallway and smiling at someone.”
The message of giving and providing acts of kindness will be timely, with the Christmas holiday wrapping up, Tuohy said.
“We know it sounds corny, but we really believe Michael was sent to us. The miracles that aligned for this to happen were inconceivable,” Tuohy said. “It was one of God’s miracles, and we grew on that.”
The couple never intended their story to spark curiosity.
“The process was so far-fetched,” Tuohy said of the book and movie.
Tuohy was a classmate of the author, Lewis.
“He happened to be in town doing an event for ‘Moneyball,’ ” Tuohy said, referring to another of Lewis’ sports books. “He came to the house and wanted to write an article for The New York Times. Nine years later, here we are.”
Sean and Leigh Anne wrote the book “In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving” as a way to explain to their fans their version of how Michael became part of their family.
Since the Tuohys welcomed Oher into their family, Sean said it’s been difficult to recall what life was like without him.
“He really just became part of our lives. We can’t remember when he wasn’t part of the family,” he said.
The basketball portion of the Mike Miller Classic begins its schedule of games at noon Thursday at the Corn Palace. The Mitchell Kernels take the court at 9 p.m. Thursday against Custer, and at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Central, Tenn.
Tuohy will watch his son, S.J., play in the classic. He will take the court with Briarcrest, Tenn., at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Sioux Falls Washington, and at 11 a.m. Friday against Red Cloud.