I say it repeatedly; the heart of Toby Keith is as large as they come. The singer, songwriter, entertainer and philanthropist will host the 14th Annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic June 2-3 at Belmar Golf Club and Riverwind Casino in Norman, Oklahoma. Clearly, Toby knows how to put on one of the best blowout weekends to be had anywhere any time, but none of it overshadows the astounding good work the event has done for an amazing cause.
Last year, the Classic raised $1.175 million for the Toby Keith Foundation, monies that go directly to operation of the three-year-old OK Kids Korral, a facility offering a home away from home for sick children and families seeking treatment in Oklahoma City. The Korral is completely cost-free to families who stay, but its work is measured in much more than money.
“We have been doing chemo for four years now,” says Amber Robertson, whose five-year-old daughter Bella is one of many kids who have stayed at OK Kids Korral – on average, children and families will stay five times per year for four days per stay. “Bella has grown up with OK Kids Korral, the staff and all their generosity and love,” Amber continues.
“Every time we get in the car for our three hour drive Bella says, ‘Mom where we going?’ I tell her that we’re on our way to the doctor and she asks if she has to get a poke today. My heart falls. Tears well up. But then, as soon as she gets that out of her mouth, she says, ‘Can we go to Toby’s house? Please mom! Can we stay the night at Toby’s?’ The tears in my eyes dry up and all the way up to OKC, everything is fine. OK Kids Korral has made our experience with chemo completely different.”
His celebrity friends always turn out for the gala and golf scramble – Sam Bowie, Rocky Calmus, Nancy Lieberman, Scotty Emerick, Walt Garrison, Bart Conner and Ray Childress are already confirmed. Live auction items are among the most exclusive offerings in the world – how about a guitar autographed by the late Merle Haggard or one-of-kind hunting and vacation trips to exotic locales? And silent auction items will include memorabilia from the best of the best including Cal Ripken, Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Derek Jeter, Dak Prescott, Greg Jennings, Johnny Bench, Eli Manning, Wayne Gretzsky and Phil Mickelson.