OSCAR TOUCHES HOUSTON
Real-life trio from The Blind Side charm Houston audience
Sunday night is going to be special for Leigh Anne Tuohy. She's going to the Oscars.
"Write about how big my boobs look in the dress or something like that," she laughingly told a CultureMap reporter as guests attending the Arrow Child & Family Ministries luncheon at the Intercontinental Hotel waited in line to have their photo taken with her and her daughter, Collins, and adoptive son, Michael Oher.
The trio were the luncheon's big draw as they talked about the success of the movie, The Blind Side, which details their lives, and made a pitch for families to adopt children who may be considered "unadoptable" because they are older or non-Caucasian. (Arrow is a Spring-based organization that facilitates foster care and adoption for abused and neglected children.)
For those unfamiliar with the runaway hit, it tells the story of Tuohy, an affluent Memphis woman who, with her husband and children, takes in an impoverished African-American teenager (Oher) after seeing him on the side of the road one rainy night and later adopts him. Oher is now a star left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. Sandra Bullock is a favorite to take home the Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Tuohy in the movie.
At the luncheon Oher, who has the demeanor of a gentle giant, spoke softly but movingly about becoming part of the Tuohy family. Oher — one of 13 siblings from one of Memphis' roughest neighborhoods — never knew his birth father, who was murdered while Oher was in high school. His mother, Denise Oher, was addicted to crack cocaine. Oher said the day they adopted him was "one of the greatest experiences I ever had."
Tuohy downplayed her contributions. "All he needed was opportunity and love. Neither of those are hard to do," she said.
But she was more blunt as she urged the audience to "get out of your country club, your golf cart, your sewing circle" and make a difference in encouraging adoption.
"It's the greatest lesson in the world to have this kid in my life," she said.
Seen in the sellout crowd: Barbara Bush, Lisa Holthouse, Emily Crosswell, Laura and John Spalding, and Phoebe Tudor, whose husband Bobby grew up in Louisiana with Tuohy's husband, Sean.
"She is so genuine," Phoebe Tudor said about Tuohy. "She's the perfect person to go out and talk about these things. She's not shy or afraid. Her story is so inspirational."
Elyse Lanier, her daughter Courtney Lanier Sarofim, and granddaughter Louisa Sarofim, also attended because Louisa, 7, is a big fan of Oher.
"After seeing the movie, she wanted to watch all of his games," Courtney Sarofim said.