Collins Tuohy has made it her mission to change people’s lives for the better. That message could not have been clearer in the recent blockbuster Hollywood movie, The Blind Side, that chronicled her relationship with adopted brother Michael Oher, whose rise from the ghetto to the National Football League was inspired by the Tuohy family.
Her message was just as clear when she served as keynote speaker for Bluefield College’s Tierney Scholarship Awareness Dinner, November 11 at David’s at the Elk’s Club in Bluefield, as she encouraged the community to make a difference in the lives of Bluefield College students.
One hundred thirty guests attended the college’s Third Annual Tierney Scholarship Awareness Dinner to meet, interact, and to hear Tuohy speak about her famous bond with Oher. Designed to increase community responsiveness to the need for a strong scholarship program at Bluefield College, the Tierney Dinner brings prominent speakers to the community each year with the hope that local residents will pay premium prices to hear the notable speakers and ultimately support the BC Fund for Scholarships.
“This is a great night for the community, not only to celebrate the accomplishments of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family, but also to generate support for the BC Fund for Scholarships,” said President David Olive. “It truly makes a difference in the lives of our students. Each one of you is having an impact on the lives of our students like the Tuohy family had on the life of Michael Oher.”
In her keynote remarks to the BC donors, Tuohy spoke about the miraculous sequence of events that had to happen in order for Oher to become a part of the Tuohy family and the even more incredible actions that took place to make it possible for Oher’s story to become an award-winning movie.
“There is not one part of this story that we believe is not a miracle,” said Tuohy, who attended Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee, and later the University of Mississippi with Oher. “God wanted this message out to the millions of people who have seen the movie. That’s why it happened. It was a miracle. It was a God thing.”
The message, Tuohy said, is to pay attention to the people around you, to those who may need help, and to respond to their needs. In doing so, she added, you get more in return than you ever do invest.
“Michael may have been blessed by us being a part of his life,” said Tuohy about how her family took the homeless Oher into their home and nurtured him from desperation to academic and athletic success, “but we were the ones blessed. We were blessed just as much by having him be a part of our family.”
The annual Scholarship Dinner is funded by the Katharine B. Tierney Foundation of Bluefield. Proceeds from the event go directly to the BC Fund for Scholarships. In addition to her remarks, Tuohy participated in a meet-and-greet session with guests and autographed The Blind Side books for fans, all to support the BC Fund.
“The Tuohy and Michael Oher story is an inspiring one,” said BC’s Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement, who noted that 40 percent of Bluefield College students are first generation college students, 60 percent from the Appalachian region, and 90 percent unable to attend college without financial aid. “Our hope is that it will inspire this community to support one another and to come together to overcome our odds. In addition, we hope it will inspire the community to support the BC Fund for Scholarships to ensure that a Christ-centered, liberal arts college education can and will remain affordable and accessible to students of this region.”