TURN AROUND.   Making a difference in someone else’s life usually begins as a total inconvenience.   Opportunities to do good in someone else’s life usually come to us while we are on our way to do something else.  The norm is that we generally just sail right on past the opportunity. We mind our own business. We look the other way.  When we do that, nothing changes.  

I had the opportunity to hear Leigh Ann Touey speak recently at a conference where she told the story behind the making of the movie “The Blind Side”.  The title of the movie has two different meanings. It means a quarterback's dead zone, which the left tackle has to protect in football, and the dead zone of good intentions, which we just pass by carelessly.  Micheal Oher and Leigh Ann Touhy became the subjects of a movie entitled “The Blind Side'' starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron. The movie gained public favor as a well-made masterpiece in the US about a decade ago.

“Looking the other way” is what nearly happened to the Touey Family one Sunday morning as they were on their way to have breakfast at a nearby restaurant, an event Leigh Ann Touhy describes as a “typical Tuohy home-cooked meal''.   On their way to the restaurant they passed a big black kid in place he didn’t belong. “That boy is in my school!”, exclaimed one of the Tuohy children. He wasn’t dressed for the cold weather. “Turn around!” Leigh Ann shouted to her husband.  Mr. Touey did as told and they circled back so Leigh Ann could investigate. And that's the day that destiny changed for both the Tuohys and for Michael Oher, former American professional football player who was an offensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL).  They showed some simple kindness to Michael and eventually he became a member of their family.  

“We wear bracelets that say TURN AROUND”, said Leigh Ann.  We wear them as a reminder that we want to make a difference. We have to stop going where we want to go and go where we are needed. The story of how the Touhys took a very black 6’4” Michael Oher and integrated him into their white suburban lives, is nothing short of unbelievable.  They gave him a home. They gave him an education. They gave him hope. They helped direct him to his destiny. He became a football legend. Michael’s story is inspiring. It's the kind of story that Rotarians perk up for when we hear it. It grabs our attention because we also want to do good in the world.  But how do we do it? Where to go to find projects and opportunities?  

The short answer is opportunities are all around us.  We pass by them every day on our way to work. They are in the Rotarian Magazine.  They are presented at our club meetings. They are in our communities and in communities across the world.  Opportunities abound. But it's up to us to TURN AROUND and get engaged. We must have a desire to do good in the world and then we have the courage to make it happen.  

In the coming weeks as we make our final preparations to celebrate our accomplishments for this amazing past year at District Conference, I challenge all Rotarians to TURN AROUND.  Find a new way to get engaged in doing a little more good in the world. We can and should be active in as many club and community service projects as possible. As you engage, who knows? You might just be the one who helps give the world its next Michael Oher.  

Governor Rich Kirkham - March 2020