The Blind Side couple wants you to ‘turn around’

James Vaughn

Laughter rose from the crowd inside The Centre Tuesday night as Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy took the stage.

Leigh Anne paced around Sean in her six-inch heels staring him up and down.

“You know what they’re thinking, don’t you?” she asked him rhetorically. “She looks just like Sandra Bullock and he looks nothing like Tim McGraw.”

The laughs didn’t end there.

The power couple is famous for inspiring “The Blind Side,” a movie based on their true story of fostering, then adopting African American football player Michael Oher, who is now the offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

“Everyone has value and everyone has opportunity if given the right circumstances,” Leigh Anne said.

Tuesday, the couple was famous for their comedy approach and their speech on “miracles” as part of Evansville’s Celebration of Diversity’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

They urged audience members to simply “turn around.”

“I guarantee I can find 50 stories in this room that are better than ours,” Sean said. “I can walk out this door a half a block and find a Michael Oher,” Leigh Anne continued.

They didn’t write Michael a big check or buy him a new car, they gave him time, and everyone can give someone less fortunate time, she said.

“Families don’t have to match,” Leigh Anne said. “We all put our pants on the same way.”

She told the story of a young boy who was walking along the beach with his grandpa and suddenly took off running. He began throwing starfish back into the ocean one by one.

When his grandpa caught up to him, he asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m saving the starfish, Papa. They’ll die on the beach,” the young boy said.

“That’s ridiculous. There are thousands of star-fish out here. You can’t save them all,” his grandpa said.

The boy stared at his grandpa and clutching a starfish, lifted his hand in front of his grandpa’s face. He tossed it into the water. “I saved that one,” he said.

“You all can make a difference and trust me, it is the greatest, most wonderful thing you will ever do in your life,” Leigh Anne said.

USI student Elizabeth Daake attended the event with her roommate and sat in on a small group session prior to the lecture.

“I had a little assumption that the family was involved in the Hollywood scene,” Daake said. “But after the small group session, I was so impressed with how down to earth Leigh Ann and Sean are.”

The junior biology major said she plans on living a life of service.

“I really feel like after hearing their story and their motives, I relate to them with the life plan I have for myself,” she said.

Daake has traveled to El Salvador with a church ministry group the past two summers to work in clinics throughout the country, caring for thousands of individuals who live in poverty.

“The people that I work with when I am there are my family. We spend the week with them – living, eating, and spending almost all of our time with them,” she said. “I have sisters, brothers, cousins and parents that all love me and I love them. It really has brought a whole new meaning to family, because my family, much like the Tuohy family, no longer sees color as something that determines who is in a family.”

The Tuohy’s signed copies of their New York Times Bestselling book, “In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving” following the lecture.