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Volume 4, Issue 74  |  September 13, 2019


Leigh Ann Tuohy, whose story inspired “The Blind Side”, headlines United Way breakfast

Orange County United Way hosted the 14th Annual Women’s Philanthropy Fund Breakfast on May 10 at the Hotel Irvine, raising more than $400,000 to support initiatives targeting the education, income, health and housing challenges facing women and children in low-income communities in Orange County. 

Keynote speaker, Leigh Ann Tuohy, the mother whose story about unconditional love and commitment to the homeless son her family adopted and who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side,” captivated the audience of the mostly female, 700 plus business and community leaders. 

Three Women

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Submitted photo

(L-R): JoAnn Albers, Leigh Ann Tuohy and Loreen Gilbert

“We were thrilled with the overwhelming support displayed at this year’s Women’s Philanthropy Fund breakfast,” said event co-chair, Loreen Gilbert, president, WealthWise Financial Services. “Since its inception, this annual event along with member contributions has raised nearly $36 million, all of which fund initiatives for at-risk women and children initiatives in the most underserved communities in Orange County.” 

Newport Beach philanthropist and co-chair JoAnn Albers, president, Albers Consulting LLC, noted that the added excitement of Tuohy along with former NFL players Vince Ferragamo (Rams, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers), Steve Beuerlein, (Raiders, Cowboys, Carolina Panthers) and LeRoy Irvin (Rams) gave an added boost of excitement to the event. 

“It was very gratifying to see a room full of professionals connect over the power of philanthropy,” Albers said. 

Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband Sean were raising two children when they adopted a teenage foster child. They raised him, ensured he got a good education and encouraged his passion for football. That once homeless and hopeless 17-year-old boy would grow up to become NFL Carolina Panthers, Super Bowl Champion Michael Oher.

Their story was chronicled in the best-selling book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” which was adapted into the film “The Blind Side,” starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock as Leigh Ann. 

“Each of us must recognize the full potential of individuals in our communities and to find value in those whom society has deemed valueless,” Tuohy explained. “Imagine if someone as valuable as Michael falls through the cracks, gets left behind. 

“What United Way is doing is making a difference because they’re helping people who could be the next best salesman, teacher, auto mechanic, and all they needed was a chance.”

To learn more about the Women’s Philanthropy Fund or Women United, visit unitedwayoc.org/get-involved/engage/women-united/#wpf.

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