Toby Keith: “He Paid For All That Himself”

Toby Keith is a legend in more ways than one. In February, the country community lost the icon Toby Keith at 62 after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. Since his passing, friends, family, fellow country music stars, and more have all paid their respects to his music, his big heart, and his passion for helping others.

On a recent podcast Ten Year Town podcast episode, host Troy Cartwright had one of Keith’s friends and songwriting partners, Colt Ford, who open up about one thing that he wished more people knew about Toby Keith. Outside of music, Keith is passionate about helping children with cancer, and he opened The Toby Keith Foundation in 2006.

A huge portion of the foundation is the housing he offers for families with children receiving treatment in OKC. The OK Korral (similar to a Ronald McDonald house) provides places for families to stay without putting financial stress on them.

The website states:

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.”

Colt Ford tells Cartwright that he wished more people knew how much of his personal money Keith poured into the Korral each year not only to keep the doors open and continue helping families but also to ensure that it remained one of the best housing options.

“He puts about $20 mil out of his pocket to run. There’s a lot of guys doing stuff, you ain’t doing that. I know people go out and raise money and stuff, but they ain’t stroking a $20 mil check out of their pocket. First of all a very few can stroke that check…”

Ford then goes on to say that he went with him one day to the facility and was blown away by it, even comparing it to the Ritz Carlton, and families do not pay a penny to stay there.

“He paid for all that himself, man like that’s crazy.”

He then choked up telling the story of a man who was staying at the OK Korral who came up to him and Keith as they were leaving, expressing his gratitude towards Keith. The man was a blue-collar proud worker and just broke down to Keith expressing how if it was not for him and a place like the OK Korral, his son would not be able to get the treatment he needed.

Ford said in that moment it hit him how important this was.

“And for a guy to just be that emotional, and to another man and just be that humble, and that grateful. It’s just like wow. I’d like to be able to do something like that. He is a legend… for real.”

It chokes you up hearing this, knowing that he had such a big heart for those dealing with cancer, and that would be what eventually took his life. Toby Keith was a man of his community, and serving these families in OKC is just one aspect of many of how he touched the lives of so many.

For more information on the OK Korral visit Toby Keith Foundation

Written by Mary Claire Crabtree for Whisky Riff ~ March 20, 2024

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