Sean Tuohy explained to students, faculty and visitors Tuesday night the importance of giving and the idea of “turning around.”
Tuohy was the featured speaker at the Second Annual Connection Culture Symposium put on by TCU’s Center for Connection Culture.
Landry Burdine, a Horned Frog sideline reporter, introduced Tuohy while making a few jokes in reference to the Peach Bowl.
Tuohy played basketball at the University of Mississippi in the early ’80s.
“[Tuohy] brings a message of hope that in today’s time, I think needs to be heard,” Burdine said. “It only took him and his wife just one minute to pay attention…to pay attention to a young man in need.”
Tuohy began his speech by speaking about the award winning movie, The Blind Side, which portrayed Tuohy and his family opening their home to Tuohy’s adopted son, Michael Oher.
Oher is currently in the NFL and has recently signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Tuohy explained the night that he and his family met Oher. They were out to get what his wife referred to as a “home-cooked meal, because someone cooked it.”
Tuohy said that while driving through the snow they saw Oher dressed in shorts and a wife-beater. Tuohy turned to his wife and said he thought that was the new kid in school and drove on past.
He said, “My wife says two words to me, ‘turn around’…everything we have been talking about started with two words, ‘turn around’.”
“These are very impactful words if you think about it,” Tuohy said. “We mean you need to watch how you value people.”
“Turn Around” are the key words of the Tuohy family’s foundation, Making It Happen. These are the words written on the wristband Tuohy’s wife Leigh Anne wears everyday.
“You don’t know who you are going to impact, but if you don’t turn around you will never find out…whether it is smiling at someone in the hallway or someone who needs help with math, help them out” said Tuohy.
Tuohy told the audience a few anecdotes from the attention they received while the movie was becoming a fantastic success.
Between the Oscars, The Today Show and interviews with 20/20, Tuohy explained that they were overwhelmed and felt slightly out of place at different times.
“All we did was give him (Michael) a little hope and a house,” Tuohy said. “We allowed him to be the person he was supposed to become, nothing more, nothing less.”
Tuohy and his wife also wrote a book, In a Heartbeat: The Power of Cheerful Giving, which appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list.
After the speech, Tuohy signed books for the audience members who lined up to meet him.
Tuohy was given a key to the city, a deck of TCU cards and a tie with both TCU and University of Mississippi colors.
Additionally, Dr. Jim Riddlesperger announced Dr. Suzy Lockwood as this year’s TCU Connection Hero prior to Tuohy’s speech.
This event, held in the BLUU Ballroom, was open to faculty and students, who were allowed one guest. The ballroom was almost completely full with a few rows of chairs to spare.
Betsy Price, mayor of Fort Worth, gave closing remarks noting how humble Tuohy was and added, “We will be a better community having heard your story.”