'Blind Side' mom: These kids need us

TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi has been officially challenged by Leigh Anne Tuohy to make a difference.
Tuohy, an Ole Miss grad and the Memphis mom who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the movie “The Blind Side,” on Thursday night focused on that message as the featured speaker at the 2010 campaign kickoff for the United Way of Northeast Mississippi.
At the event, Cathy Robertson, this year’s campaign chairwoman, announced that the campaign goal is $2.15 million, slightly more than last year’s $2.1 million.
UW Executive Director Melinda Tidwell said the figure is in line with the amount that was raised in the last campaign.
“Even though the economy is slow, the needs are still so great,” Tidwell said.
Thursday night’s event was used as part of the fundraiser. Tidwell said that because sponsors paid for Tuohy’s speaking fee, any profit from the event will go into the campaign.
About 1,000 people bought tickets for the event at the BancorpSouth Arena and the meet-and-greet with Tuohy and her husband, Sean Tuohy, at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.
The Tuohys are the adoptive parents of Michael Oher, who was a homeless Memphis teen they took into their home and raised. He went on to play football at Ole Miss and now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Tuohy said she continues to be involved with philanthropy because there are more kids like Oher out there.
“We need to get out of our comfort zone,” she said. “These kids need us. There are Michael Ohers in every city of the United States of America. … That’s why we’re passionate about United Way because they are getting involved and they are making a difference every day.”
Her challenge was to make a difference by doing something nice they didn’t do the day before.
“You can save somebody,” she said. “You can do something. You can get involved and you can make a difference. You can have a cheerful heart about it and I’m telling you, you will be amazed at the results. … The Tuohy family challenges you.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal