Couple Depicted in Hollywood Blockbuster ‘The Blind Side’ Tour the Holy Land (with VIDEO)
‘This is a game changer,’ Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy say of trip led by Washington-based Museum of the Bible
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose story inspired a Hollywood blockbuster for which Sandra Bullock snagged an Oscar, visited the Holy Land for the first time as part of an 11-day tour organized by the Washington-based Museum of the Bible.
The couple became famous back in 2009, when the film “The Blind Side” recounted their adoption of a homeless teen named Michael Oher, who later went on to play for the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens.
The Museum of the Bible recently took several of its longstanding members on a whirlwind excursion through Jordan and Israel, visiting numerous important sites such as Petra, the Western Wall, the City of David and the Sea of Galilee.
“Our number one goal is to help people engage with the Bible so these are folks who have become members early on in the life of the museum and we’ve offered this trip up,” Ken McKenzie, CEO of the Museum of the Bible, told The Media Line. “We all come together over the chance to have…access [to these sites] because of our relationship with a lot of great organizations here in Israel.”
The Museum of the Bible, which opened in late 2017, cost $500 million to build and houses thousands of artifacts in its permanent collection in addition to hundreds of items on loan from institutions across the globe. Many of the items on display were purchased by the Green family, Evangelical Christians who own the Hobby Lobby chain in the United States. According to the museum’s website, its objective is to offer “visitors an immersive and personalized experience with the Bible, and its ongoing impact on the world around us.”
“We are at a unique moment in history when Jews and Christians have moved beyond their troubled past and, today, we are building bridges between our communities,” Rivka Kidron, an expert on Christian-Israel relations who helped organize the trip to Israel in conjunction with the Museum of the Bible, wrote in a statement to The Media Line. “The connection between Israel and the Jewish and Christian peoples is of strategic importance and we are actively investing in and cultivating these relationships. The Museum of the Bible is at the core of these efforts, uniting Jews and Christians around their shared values and deep connection to the Bible.”
As part of their 11-day tour, the Tuohys visited Nazareth where Jesus is believed to have lived; the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem where Christ is said to have prayed the night before his arrest by the Romans; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of his burial.
“I actually went to a Jewish school for 13 years,” Sean Tuohy, who is a motivational speaker and sports commentator, revealed to The Media Line. “My daddy was a teacher in one so for me it was a really easy [decision] to go [to Israel] because I’d heard so much.”
For her part, Leigh Anne Tuohy, an author and interior designer who inspired Bullock’s character in the film, grew up in a faith-based household. “My grandmother read the bible to me every night,” she recounted to The Media Line. “Just to walk where Jesus walked and to see all of this is a game changer.”
The couple capped off their trip with a stop at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial center, an experience Sean Tuohy described as overwhelming.
“I’m glad we did it last,” he admitted. “Otherwise, I would have had to take a day off” before continuing.
The Tuohys, long-time members of the Museum of the Bible, now run the Making It Happen Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged youth in the foster care system find a permanent home.
“Kids don’t ask to be homeless,” Leigh Anne Tuohy stressed. “That’s not on anybody’s wish list and so we need to be there for the kids that fall through the cracks. It’s our responsibility. The bible charges us from the beginning to the end to take care of the orphans and the widows.”
A decade after the release of “The Blind Side,” the Tuohys remain satisfied with Hollywood’s portrayal of their family.
“[The filmmakers] hung around a lot, they wanted to get the authenticity of the story and our platform and message,” she said. “They wanted to show how quickly Michael covered a vast amount of space, to use a football analogy… because he did extraordinary things in a short amount of time.
“Families don’t have to match and you need to love people who don’t look like you,” she concluded.