For 10 years, country music star Toby Keith held his annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, which includes a fundraiser, with one goal in mind.
In January, that goal was realized when Keith raised enough funds to finally open the OK Kids Korral, a hotel for families with children being treated for cancer.
In 2014, the 11th annual event continued, raising money to make sure the Toby Keith Foundation helps the center remain a state-of-the-art facility.
This year, Oklahoma Sooners football coach Bob Stoops, NFL greats Dermontti Dawson and Tony Casillas and renowned American storyteller Red Steagall were some of the celebrities who chipped in to help Keith with his passion project. The project raised more than $1 million in 2013, and Keith said he expected to reach that level again this year.
While people see the celebrities converge on Norman every year for the golf classic, what Keith sees is a chance to give back to the community and help the families of children who are facing cancer treatments.
“It was my goal when we started over a decade ago,” Keith said about opening the OK Kids Korral. “The Korral is 16 rooms of Ritz-Carlton meets Disneyland. People can drive in without the money to stay anywhere or any money to eat, but their kids are sick. They come in, and we check them in there. It eases and facilitates all of their needs while they are in town. I found my calling.”
Working with celebrities, communities
Keith’s calling doesn’t end with the OK Kids Korral. It seems Keith is always giving back. Not only does Keith find celebrities to come help with his charity causes, but he also pays it back by giving his time to their causes. The celebrities work together and do their best to make the world a better place through charity work.
The tornado that devastated Moore in 2013 was another cause for which Keith was able to rally his friends. He brought in names including Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn to help raise money to rebuild Keith’s hometown.
“There is in inside joke in the music business where, when something happens, people say there is going to be a benefit concert,” Keith said. “However, this time it was easy because there were so many people calling for it. I wanted to take the lead on it, and Garth and Ronnie and Willie stepped in and said we need to honor Toby’s point because this is his hometown. Once everyone checked their hat at the door and said we’re in and we’re following your lead, it made it so easy.”
Keith also has done a lot of work over the years with the USO. The military service organization honored him with its Spirit of the USO Award at this year’s “Salute to Troops” event. Keith, who performed at the event, said the honor completely took him off guard.
Tour supports charity
In addition to his own support for charities, Keith has a way for his music fans to help out as he kicks off his “Shut Up and Hold On” tour this summer. Fans can buy tickets through the Tickets-for-Charity deal (www.ticketsforcharity.com), and they will receive better seats at the shows while helping out the Toby Keith Foundation.
Keith said fans know exactly what they can expect from a Toby Keith concert.
“I’m always looking forward to going on tour,” Keith said. “We have a new album we are working on, and we will do about 50 dates and be done by the end of summer.”
While nothing is booked for Oklahoma, Keith said Tulsa has been calling, so there’s a chance the tour might show up there.
Joining him for the tour is his daughter Krystal Keith as well as country rapper Colt Ford for select dates.
Keith said he is excited to get his daughter on the road with him, and he might even bring her on stage to sing with him during his performance.
Hearing her dad say that took Krystal by surprise. She said she gets about 50 tweets a day asking if she will perform with her dad. She said it will be amazing if she gets that opportunity.
“It’s really special for me because that is the stage I grew up on,” Krystal said.
AT A GLANCE
The annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic takes place every year in Norman, with the charity auction taking place at Riverwind Casino and Hotel. People who want to donate money to the Toby Keith Foundation or learn more about the OK Kids Korral can go to www.tobykeithfoundation.org. For more information about Keith’s “Shut Up and Hold On” tour dates, go to tickets.tobykeith.com.