Billy Ray Cyrus is set to receive an award on behalf of his late father Ron Cyrus from officials at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Ron Cyrus died from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer, in 2006 at the age of 70. He is thought to have developed the asbestos-related disease while working at a steel plant shoveling the toxic mineral fiber, before turning to politics.
The "Achy Breaky Heart" hitmaker has now joined forces with campaigners at ADAO to urge U.S. lawmakers to issue a complete ban on the use of asbestos. He tells the National Enquirer, "Hearing the name Ron Cyrus still gives me chills. He was everything to me, but most of all he was my best friend - and mesothelioma robbed me of that relationship."
And the country star will pay tribute to his beloved dad when he accepts the 2011 "Warren Zevon Keep Me in Your Heart" honor at the organization's annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia on April 2. He says, "I am honored to accept this tribute on my father's behalf. I hope that his legacy of 'making a difference through his work' can help give an even louder voice to ADAO."