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November 21, 2013

Foundation’s OK Kids Korral offers temporary living space to pediatric cancer patients

NORMAN — The public received a sneak peak into the long-anticipated opening of The Toby Keith Foundation’s OK Kids Korral during a grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting Thursday.

The facility, located two blocks south of The Children’s Hospital at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, is a state-of-the-art 25,000-square-foot, cost-free home away from home for pediatric cancer patients and their families.

During the ceremonies, Toby Keith, a Norman resident and famous country musician, said the facility fulfills a dream 10 years in the making. His hope is that the home will help alleviate some of the financial and emotional struggles associated with treating pediatric cancer.

“Every wall, every corner — it’s been built with love, and you can tell that God is ever present,” he said.

The house features 16 rooms (12 overnight suites that sleep five people and four daytime suites), neutropenic wing for children with weakened immune systems, a gourmet kitchen, an Oklahoma Route 66-themed indoor play room, Oklahoma-themed outdoor playground, Oklahoma-themed interior design, art from local artists, a game room, a family resource room, a laundry room, a reflection room and a theater that doubles as a tornado shelter. The facility also will house The Toby Keith Foundation’s offices.

Keith said his vision for the house was simple, but his expectations were far exceeded by the many donors and companies that helped make the building’s completion possible.

“I can’t go on any further without telling you this is Ritz Carlton meets Disney World,” Keith said, laughing. “My vision was strictly just to facilitate, so mine was Motel 6 meets Moore, Okla. I would have been happy with Chuck E. Cheese and Motel 6.”

Keith noted that all contractors came under budget for the project. He thanked OK Kids Korral Executive Director Juliet Nees-Bright for her leadership and attention to detail. His acknowledgment was reciprocated by a standing ovation for Nees-Bright.

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