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Toby Honored at ACMs / Kids Korral Carries On

Blake Shelton paid heartfelt tribute to the late country superstar Toby Keith at the 2024 ACM Awards, moving fans with his touching words and reminiscences, summoning memories of he and Toby’s performance of Should Have Been a Cowboy at the 2018 ACMs.

With Toby's wife and children in attendance, Blake's emotional speech honored Toby's remarkable legacy as both an artist and a family man, underscoring the profound impact Toby had on the country music community and beyond.

As weighty as Toby’s musical legacy is, the accomplishment for which he was most proud had nothing to do with his number-one singles, albums sold, or Hall of Fame inductions. It was his creation of the Toby Keith Foundation and specifically the OK Kids Korral,, the cost-free home away from home for pediatric cancer patients and their families that Toby considered to be his greatest achievement.

After the 2-year-old daughter of former bandmate and road manager Scott Webb succumbed to cancer in 2003, Toby was deeply moved to act. Learning that pediatric cancer patients and their families often had to travel multiple hours to receive treatments, Toby decided to provide relief from the emotional and financial toll of traveling, on top of everything else the kids and parents were going through and created the OK Kids Korral.

Hosting hundreds of families each year from North America and multiple countries overseas, the 25,000-sf facility offers 12 private suites, 4 day rooms, a gourmet kitchen, indoor, outdoor playgrounds, a movie theater along with several other features designed for kids to let loose and families to relax.

"If you go in there and watch it work, it’s probably my greatest accomplishment," Keith told The Oklahoman in 2019.  

One of the primary fundraising events for the OK Kids Korral is the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic which has raised over $18 million to date and will celebrate its 20th anniversary this May 31st and June 1st when it takes place once again at Toby’s Belmar Golf Club in Norman, OK.

“We are getting ready to host our first event without Toby acting as emcee, ribbing us to donate and entertaining us throughout the night”, says Juliet Nees-Bright, Executive Director of the Toby Keith Foundation. “This year will be a balancing act as we remember him, but also honor his wishes to put on one hell of a party.

Late last year Toby told KWTV News’ Robin Marsh, “One of the first things I thought when I got cancer was who’s gonna take care of the Korral. Who will carry that torch?”

If you wish to honor the true spirit of Toby Keith and support kids and families dealing with  pediatric cancer, you can do so by donating here.

(Jeff Kravitz Photo)