Toby Keith – Revealing a new interview about cancer charities and the SabesWings Lifetime Achievement Award
EXCLUSIVE REPOST OF “THE LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE” INTERVIEW
Toby Keith was born to be in the spotlight.
While so many artists have received the same great celebrity gift throughout history, there’s something much more meaningful when that artist stands in front of millions of fans. It’s not just the strumming of his guitar that you hear when he takes the stage. The light around him shines brightly as inside Keith, sound made from a beating heart of gold radiates out into the world.
Considered one of the most beloved musicians of all time, the National Medal of Arts recipient’s list of accomplishments is nothing short of outstanding. Keith has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the prestigious Merle Haggard Spirit Award from the Academy of Country Music, to name just a few notable accomplishments. The superstar’s work made him a pioneer in the entertainment industry. A confident performer with integrity, he sang some of the greatest country hits of the 20th century, including “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”, “Who’s That Man”, “Me Too”, “How Do You Like Me Now?!, “”You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like That”, “I’m Just Talking About Tonight”, “Courtesy of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)”, “Beer For My Horses”, and ” American Soldier.”
Celebrated for his artistry, seven-time Grammy nominee and two-time Country Music Academy Artist of the Year is an unstoppable force. But for all the joy his triumphant collection brought to the masses, it’s how his storied career has produced something far more than just seductive tunes and catchy music videos.
From the very beginning, Keith’s mission has always been to create a space where people feel accepted. His deep emotions linger in front of an audience at a sold-out concert just as well as his heartfelt interactions with other celebrities. Behind the scenes and behind the scenes, his unwavering need to unconditionally help those in need comes to the fore.
The musician’s widely known philanthropic efforts have had an everlasting effect on mankind. Whether expressing support for veterans or helping citizens recover from natural disasters, Keith sees it as his patriotic duty to use his powerful voice to drive change and inspire people. others to follow suit.
For someone who is a larger than life performer, it’s fascinating to see how completely down-to-earth he is when the curtain falls. Any trace of intimidation quickly disappears when he looks at you with his sparkling eyes. Peeling back the layers of the idol, you discover that the making of this legendary singer is not rooted in ego. There’s just one person standing in front of you who doesn’t wish to be revered musical royalty on a pedestal. There is only a humble man who is eternally grateful for what he has received. You only see the compassionate cowboy.
Perfectly flawed and rough around the edges, its presence is that of a burly character perpetually clad in a slightly disheveled wardrobe. Keith wears the look of someone working outdoors all day only to finally sit on the porch and relax with a frosty beer as the sun sets over the horizon. His dusty boots have traveled a million miles and left behind a trail of deep footprints full of red Oklahoma dirt no matter where he goes.
The musical sensation’s legendary status has allowed him to build a vast empire of goodwill. Keith’s unconditional love is especially felt at the Toby Keith Foundation. The center’s mission is to promote the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients. It also funds OK Kids Korral, which is a free and comfortable home for pediatric cancer patients and their families receiving treatment at OU Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Stephenson Cancer Center and other facilities in proximity.
The valiant Keith and his dedicated team will now be honored by the laudable SabesWings Foundation. On September 18, the icon will receive the SabesWings Lifetime Achievement Award at the second annual Strike Out event in Paso Robles, California. The festivities will help raise funds through ticket sales to support cancer patients suffering from medical financial toxicity.
Together over the past few years, OK Kids Korral and SabesWings have joined forces to help patients who have to choose between paying for medical treatment or the basic expenses of daily living. Giving cancer patients of all ages the chance to heal without worry is the philosophy of Keith and SabesWings. founders Bret and Kandace Saberhagen embrace. The famed Kansas City Royals pitcher and his wife know the power of supporting those in need during a medical crisis after going through a cancer scare. Seeing how the cost of care was rising at that time, they knew something had to be done for those who weren’t lucky enough to afford it.
Keith has personally experienced how illness can change your life in an instant. In June, he revealed on social media that he was privately battling stomach cancer. Fortunately, he is now cured of cancer. While recovering from treatment, the survivor witnessed firsthand how community love can be a pillar of strength for patients bravely battling the dreaded disease.
The sad truth is that there is no one in the world who has not been touched by the disease. Lives are being shaken up and fundamentally changed. Neither celebrity status nor birthright can prevent this from happening to someone. But it’s those with a heart of gold like Keith who can help make the process more human. The power of kindness is truly uplifting.
During an exclusive interview with “The Lifestyle Magazine”, Keith revealed why being honored by his friends and fellow SabesWings philanthropists is a momentous occasion.
Your foundation helps and supports pediatric cancer patients and their families. How was this mission born?
Twenty years ago, my friend – who was my first guitar player in the very first band I was in and ended up being my road manager later – had a 2-year-old daughter, Allison, who developed cancer. At its most difficult times, at the eleventh hour, the hospital had just told them to take Allison home. They had to call on the hospice if necessary. I had supported St. Jude in Memphis and as a last resort we asked for a favor. St. Jude had a few things there that they hadn’t done yet here in Oklahoma. Allison and her mother came by car. When they had exhausted all their options, they returned home and Allison died.
After the funeral, the mother said the most telling part was that when she arrived at St. Jude, she received free food, housing and transportation. She didn’t want anything. She was actually going to worry about the whole thing when they arrived because she was in such a rush, hadn’t prepared herself, and hadn’t brought anything with them. She got everything from Walmart gift cards to medicine to everything they needed. I said, “In honor of Ally, we should consider doing something like this here in Oklahoma City.” And so OK Kids Korral was born.
What are the things about your foundation that you are most proud of at the end of the day?
I think I’m most proud of the fact that we manage over 300 families a year. They come from all over and they are desperate, just like Allison’s mother was. It makes me proud to know that when it comes to this part of it, they can show up at children’s hospital and have a burden relieved as soon as they know they can stay right on the other side of the street in a beautiful gated and safe lodge. OK Kids Korral is the Ritz Carlton meets Disney World.
You are honored by SabesWings in September. As an icon of music and the world of philanthropy, what does it mean to you to receive this award?
These things are designed as fundraisers. And the Saberhagens donated their time to my event and other events, Make-A-Wish, etc. So it honors them as much as anyone. On paper, it looks like I’m brought in and honored, which is wonderful for them to choose me to do it. But at the end of the day, it’s like a guest speaker at any event. It’s a reciprocal type of situation where he (Bret Saberhagen) did stuff for my event so I do stuff for his event. But in my opinion, this event honors them as much as anyone else for all the work they do.
What makes the combined efforts of SabesWings with your foundation so unique in the philanthropic community? Also, what do you think you do best compared to other organizations?
If I show up, SabesWings also gives us donations; what I said is reciprocity in the previous answer. I think what separates us is our CEO, Juliet Bright, who is the woman who leads my foundation. She is so adept at it and defends so well that it makes us perform at a very high level. That being said, other people who have come like SabesWings as well as other celebrities who have come to my event and have events themselves, often came back after the event and asked if they could speak to Juliet. I ask why, and they say, “I want my event to go as well as yours. Maybe they didn’t dream big enough, or they didn’t consider it a big enough picture, or just the overall quality of how the event is run. Juliette has done a wonderful job over the years, and she’s getting better. It’s kind of on cruise control now, and I’m saying that’s not taking her for granted, but because she makes it work so well now that even though it takes her 365 days to put on the event , she always succeeded. It is managed as well as any foundation in the country.
When you hear how much of a difference the two organizations working together make in real life, what does this incredible goodwill mean to you?
It’s nice to be able to focus and have all your energy in the world for something that really matters to you. Until the creation of OK Kids Korral, all my charitable affairs were dispersed. Whoever came at the right time got it. I worked a lot with St. Jude, most of my effort went there, so it tied together really well. But if I attended an event or TV show where you were making money for charity. I really didn’t have anything that made me say, ‘Yeah, that’s my charity.’ And once OK Kids Korral kicked in, I was able to focus all my energies just on that. And you can look at the other stuff and say, “I’m sorry, this is taking up all my time and energy and money. We have to because it’s my job to make sure we raise the money every year that is the lifeline of OK Kids Korral.
Keith generates wisdom that can only be understood by someone who truly savors life and knows that giving is the greatest gift. The superstar is ultimately a superhero who will always sing an enduring and enlightening ballad for all mankind.
Republished with permission from “The Magazine Lifestyle” and writer ElizaBeth Taylor
Cover and photograph of Greg Waterman