OK KIDS KORRAL: a home away from home

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OK KIDS KORRAL: a home away from home

By Don Swift
Photos by Don Swift

Since 2006, the Toby Keith Foundation has been helping children with cancer and their families in Oklahoma. The mission for the Toby Keith Foundation has been to encourage the health, happiness, and hope for these children during their treatment.

It may not be well known but the fact is cancer affects one out of three Oklahomans during their lifetime and is the second leading cause of death for people living in the Sooner state.

Annually in the U.S. about 10,400 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer and about 1,545 children will die from the disease each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Keith, a special Oklahoman and celebrity country-western singer-songwriter, became aware of the challenges and burdens child cancer patients and their families face on a regular basis.

Getting the right health care treatment often means that cancer patients must travel away from home for extended periods of time, often to a treatment center located in another city. As expected that places even more of an emotional and financial burden on families than anyone can imagine.

After learning more about these families and the troubles they face, Keith made the decision to do something that would make a difference.

The idea of offering a sick child with the warmth of home in a setting full of love and encouragement became a reality in January 2014.

OK KIDS KORREL opened in January of 2014 and is located at 818 NE 8th Street in Oklahoma City.

“There is no greater gift than keeping families strong and together during a very difficult time with a child battling cancer. If we can alleviate stress for a family, encourage a brother or sister, and comfort a child who is sick, then we can make a difference in the fight against cancer,” Keith said.

Behind the doors at OK KIDS KORREL are rooms where children can let loose, feel safe, and parents can simply relax. Executive Director Juliet Bright reports OK KIDS KORREL in 2014 has helped more than 70 children and hosted 400 family visits as the waiting list continues to grow every month. Bright estimates that in 2015 the center will help more than 100 children and accommodate 600 family visits.

Special features at the OK KIDS KORREL include 12 private overnight suites, which can accommodate up to five people; refrigerators in each suite; gourmet kitchen and dining areas; indoor and outdoor play areas; laundry room, family resource room; four daytime rooms; movie theater; reflection room; game room; and a neutropenic wing for children with weakened immune systems.

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