9th annual Nashville Honors Gala benefits leukemia, cancer research

(Photo: WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s the music industry’s largest foundation raising money for medical research, and Monday night was their big night.

The T.J. Martell Foundation’s ninth annual Nashville Honors Gala was held at the Omni Hotel. At least five people were honored for their leadership in the community.

This year’s honorees are as follows:

  • Janet Miller – Spirit of Nashville Award
  • Dr. Joseph Smith – Medical Research Advancement Award
  • Scott Hamilton – Lifetime Humanitarian Award
  • Rod Essig – Frances Preston Outstanding Music Industry Achievement Award
  • Louis Messina – Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award


The foundation’s CEO, Laura Heatherly, told News 2 the organization has been around for 42 years.

“It started actually in the music industry when a gentleman by the name of Tony Martell… he had a wonderful son named TJ who had leukemia, and before TJ passed away, he asked his father to raise a million dollars so no one would suffer as he did,” Heatherly explained.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

News 2 also caught up with Charlie Daniels on the red carpet.

“They do a lot of good. They have a very high profile here with Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt Hospital, so there’s good work going on all the time constantly,” said Daniels.

He continued, “We want to keep that happening, so we’re here to raise a profile raise some money for TJ Martel Leukemia Foundation.”

Charles Esten returned as host. The event also featured appearances by George Strait, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, Kelsea Ballerini and Frankie Ballard.

All proceeds will benefit leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.

Click here to learn more about the foundation.