“It Was A Calling From God” – Toby Keith On What Inspired Him To Open The OK Kids Korral

Toby Keith country music
Toby Keith

Since Colt Ford opened up on the Ten Year Town podcast about how much of Keith’s own funds he poured into the private hospital for families with children receiving cancer treatment, I have been deep-dive learning more about the Korral.

“OK Kids Korral helps make life a little easier for children with cancer by providing a safe, convenient, and hopeful place for families to connect with each other and focus on the well-being of their child. OK Kids Korral provides daytime and overnight lodging for pediatric patients and their families.

The state-of-the-art facilities at OK Kids Korral are designed to create a relaxing haven for the entire family.

The website describes the Ronald McDonald-like housing option for families traveling far to receive the best treatment for their sick child. On the podcast episode, Ford noted that Keith contributed $20 million to keep the facility open. But what inspired Keith to open such a wonderful place?

Keith did an interview when the Toby Keith Foundation opened the doors of the OK Kids Korral in 2013, and he noted that a close friend had lost their child to cancer. When their family packed up to take him to St. Jude to receive treatment, they weren’t sure how long they were going to be in Tennessee or when they would be back to Oklahoma.

When they returned, they told Keith that when they got to St. Jude, a similar facility allowed the family to stay together, providing free housing while their child was in the hospital.

“When they got back they said they didn’t need anything. They had this type of facility, St. Jude’s leads the way on that. So, we need one here in Oklahoma.

It was a calling from God for me. I’ve got my foundation, and I raise money so what am I going to do with it? You need a calling. So this place was built with that kind of love.”

Keith noted that while the Korral was being built, he didn’t check in on the building process because he wanted it to be a shock and experience it as a family who was walking through the doors from the hospital across the street would see it.

“I wanted to know how that felt, and it exceeded my expectations tenfold. It’s kid-friendly. It’s like you come (into town), get your treatments, and you go back home; you’re in a car seat. Instead of going three hours twice a week and losing those precious hours with your family community back and forth to treatment, you just come here.

Your treatment lasts an hour; you just jump the shuttle, cross the street, and come back to Disney World. It’s Ritz Carlton meets Disney World and it’s pretty phenomenal.”

Having the housing unit so close to the hospital allows entire families to stay together and nearby for parents with children who are fully admitted to the hospital across the street.

Damn…Toby Keith was one extraordinary human being.

Keith said it best at the end of the video: Help from the community keeps this place going. If you are interested in helping, The OK Kids Korral website has a full breakdown of how to donate, volunteer, or purchase items from their wish list.

Keith was a giver until he left us, and helping this place keeps his generous legacy going.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock