A white couple, already parents to a son and daughter, ask a black male teenager who is struggling in school if he would like to live with them. He moves in, raising eyebrows among some of the couple’s friends and family as well as among some of his own. Under their tutelage he learns how to deal with a disability that had led some of his previous teachers to dismiss him as a lost cause. Through tutoring and hard work, the young man brings his grades up enough to be accepted into college, where he goes on to become a football standout. In the process, he and his surrogate family learn much about themselves, each other and their capacity to love.
While this story might read like a synopsis of “The Blind Side,” a movie based on the life of Baltimore Ravens football player Michael Oher, it isn’t. This is the story of 1991 Lufkin High School graduate and former Arkansas Razorback Vernon Wade and the Holloways Randy and Lynn and their children, Joni and James and the journey that would teach them about the ugliness of racism, the reward of hard work and the never-say-die spirit of the underdog.
Last week, Wade traveled from Arkansas with his wife Debra and her son, Gunner, to celebrate an early Christmas with Randy and Lynn Holloway. Also home for the occasion was his sister Joni Hall, her husband, Ryan, and their children, Harlie and Hallie; his brother James and his wife, Bekah; Wade’s 11-year old son, Alex; and nephew Jason Welch. [read more]