The Toby Keith Foundation is moving forward with plans to build a place to rest for families with children undergoing treatment for cancer.
The planned $8.5 million OK Kids Korral at NE 8 and Laird — land currently owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority — will provide a home for pediatric cancer patients and their families while they are receiving treatment at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center and other nearby facilities.
Plans and designs were approved Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. Foundation Director Juliet Nees-Bright said construction on the 25,000-square-foot, two-story building should begin this spring and be complete in late 2013.
“It's been in the board's mind to do this for several years,” she said. “We want to create a home away from home.”
Keith became a champion for easing the plight of children with cancer after a friend and former bandmate's child died.
“Over the past few years, all these state-of-the-art cancer facilities have been coming to Oklahoma City,” Nees-Bright said. “More kids are coming for treatment than ever before. We realized we needed to create a place, one that specializes in helping kids. They have special needs — they have immune systems that are very weak.”
The OK Kids Korral will consist of 12 overnight suites, each large enough to host five people. Four suites are designed for families who come to the city in the morning but have to wait for an afternoon appointment.
“So instead of having to stay at the hospital during that time, the families can come back where they can use the library, play area — where parents can get on a computer and check email — or they can simply
Western lodge design
The Korral's look will set it apart from the surrounding Oklahoma Health Center. Pamela Deatherage, vice president of Crafton Tull, said the building is designed to
“We've used a lot of western lodge materials — wood siding and stone — and the stone matches what is used at the cancer center,” she said. It's similar to a Ronald McDonald House, she said, which also caters to families with children undergoing medical treatment.
Nees-Bright said the location, which is adjacent to a site designated for development of an Embassy Suites Hotel, is ideal for families with children traveling to Oklahoma City for cancer treatment.
“It's in the heart of Oklahoma City,” Nees-Bright said.
“It's central to everything, near doctors, and near the energy and vibe of downtown. Oklahoma is still a very rural community, and 80 percent of these kids are coming from outside our county. We have people traveling here for treatment every day. So this will be a very uplifting setting.”
It's been in the board's mind to do this for several years,” Nees-Bright said. “We want to create a home away from home.”