Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mother from The Blind Side movie, headlined the 2015 Champion for Children dinner benefitting Christian Homes & Family Services at the Abilene Civic Center Monday night.
The theme for the evening was to save children who are slipping through society’s cracks and 752 people attended to hear her share the story about how she found Michael Oher.
Tuohy started her speech by talking about the movie and the actors and gave a short update for each family member. S.J. is a junior basketball player in college, Collins’ is getting married and Michael became the starting tackle for the Carolina Panthers. She also noted that her husband, Sean, looks nothing like Tim McGraw.
She then spoke about how she found Michael on a holiday and how just two words changed a young man’s life.
“Turn around,” Tuohy said. “All we did was turn our car around and offer him hope and love and opportunity and it changed his life. Monday became Tuesday and Tuesday became Wednesday and it became a love story. There was no plan, there was no agenda, there was no motive. Here was a young man that society had deemed 100 percent valueless.”
Tuohy spoke about Nick Saban, a family friend who was Louisiana State University’s head football coach at the time and is now at the University of Alabama. When Saban came to make sure Michael was a good football player, Saban said Michael was obviously athletically gifted and a leader, Tuohy said.
Tuohy quoted Saban as saying, “He has got to be the most obvious success story walking the streets of Memphis, Tennessee.”
Sherri Statler, the President for Christian Homes, said that the event was a touchdown.
“When guests walk out asking you who will speak next year, it’s a good sign of success,” Statler said. “And I know of at least one couple who stayed after to visit with a co-worker about becoming foster parents. Score!”
November is the national adoption month and Christian Homes is in need of more foster families and volunteers. Tuohy strongly encouraged everyone to get involved with the program.
“We all take risks,” Tuohy said. “It’s what you choose to take a risk on. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out of your social circle. Volunteer. Get involved at Christian Homes. Everyone in this room has the ability to change someone’s life. You will be the one that benefits.”
Tuohy believes that college kids can make a difference too.
“Age is just a number,” Tuohy said. “College students have so much to offer. Get involved with some of these kids that are in the foster care system. SJ started in the tenth grade and it has changed his life. He is a junior in college and he still does it. Get involved. You can impact a child’s life. ”
Rachel Lopez De Castilla, senior psychology major from San Antonio, attended the dinner.
“I absolutely loved tonight’s event,” Lopez De Castilla said. “It was encouraging, funny and she really challenged the audience to make a difference in people’s lives by taking a small risk and getting outside of your comfort zone. Leigh Ann has such enthusiasm and her words and story were convicting. She really encouraged me to just help people and be kind! It’s not hard to do.”