A version of this story also appears in Thursday’s The Oklahoman.
Toby Keith and friends raise $550,000 for charity
NORMAN – Despite the recession, country music superstar Toby Keith has helped get Oklahoma cancer charity Ally’s House more than half a million dollars closer to its goals.
The sixth annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic June 12-13 in Norman raised $550,000, his publicist announced Wednesday. This year’s take brings the event’s overall total nearly $3 million.
Ally’s House is a Norman-based nonprofit that helps Oklahoma children with cancer and their families. It is named for Allison Webb, the 2-year-old daughter of Scott Webb, one of Keith’s original bandmates, and his wife Linda Webb. Ally died in 2003 of kidney cancer; the Webbs and Keith founded the charity the following year.
“So many charity events have struggled in this economy,” said Linda Webb, Ally’s House executive director. “We are very pleased, and it’s really going to help us with all the exciting things that we have planned. … Toby’s support is a gift we never take for granted, and we appreciate it more than we can express.”
Along with providing financial aid for families coping with pediatric cancer, the nonprofit is looking forward to cutting the ribbon later this summer on the renovated oncology unit at Children’s Hospital. Ally’s House gave $500,000 to build a new playroom, family resource room, room for infusion treatments and palliative care area there.
The charity also has secured land on the OU Health Sciences Center campus and is looking at designs for an actual Ally’s House, which would lodge pediatric cancer patients being treated at Children’s Hospital and their families. The plan is to offer housing similar to a Ronald McDonald House but specifically for children with cancer.
This year’s Golf Classic reached its second-highest total; the 2008 event raised $709,000.
“You hope that you continue to grow, but there is a little bit of recession going on right now. But I still expect it to be fantastic as always,” Keith told The Oklahoman before this year’s event.
“I really call on people hard to come forward and help our cause for these kids in Oklahoma but … I think I’m gonna have to beat them up a little harder this year I think,” he added with a laugh.
The two-day private event included a party, auction and celebrity golf tournament. Among those in attendance were comic Rodney Carrington, University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, gymnast Bart Conner, and many others. race car driver Bobby Hillin, Jr.; basketball players Kevin Bookout, Kelly Newton and Nancy Lieberman; baseball stars Roger Clemens, Kevin Gross and Mickey Tettleton and football standouts Stephen Alexander, Rocky Calmus, Ray Childress, Dan Cody, Cedric Jones, Steve Owens, Trent Smith and Jason White.
In addition, Ally’s House recently received an almost $131,000 donation from Edmond Santa Fe High School, money raised during the school’s annual fundraiser Double Wolf Dare Week.
“Even though we have the support of Toby Keith, which is invaluable which other organizations would just die to have, the need is greater than any one person or one event,” Webb said. “Those kids were just tireless. … They take fundraising to a whole new level in terms of creative ideas.”
For more information on Ally’s House, call 733-ALLY (2559) or go online to www.allyshouse.net.