Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

Billy Ray, Miley Cyrus draw attention to mesothelioma

8 Apr 2009 by under Events, Legal, News, People

cyrus 100x100 Billy Ray, Miley Cyrus draw attention to mesotheliomaAn interview published Sunday, April 5, by the Boston Globe featured an interview with popular country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus, and his daughter Miley Cyrus, who is probably more famous now than her father was in his heyday. Billy Ray is known to a generation of 1980s country music fans for his hit single “Achy Breaky Heart” but is probably better known among a younger generation of teens and ‘tweens simply as the father of their idol, Disney superstar Miley Cyrus, of the network’s “Hannah Montana” series.

Discussing the atmosphere of celebrity in which Miley grew up, as the daughter of a performer, the interview veers off to mention Billy Ray’s roots as the son of a steelworker father, Ron Cyrus, who went on to serve 21 years in the House of Representatives. Almost offhandedly, the story mentions that Ron Cyrus passed away of mesothelioma, which he almost certainly contracted through his exposure to asbestos in the mills.

Perhaps the paper felt this tidbit was relevant to its audience because the elder Mr. Cyrus visited for treatment of his mesothelioma, and son Billy Ray wrote a colorful country tune, “I Want My Mullet Back,” in honor of a former Red Sox baseball player. In his day, Billy Ray was famous for his own long mullet haircut, a style cropped short on top and sides but long in the back (“business in the front, party in the back”).

The mention of mesothelioma seems random, but there’s more to the story.

Ron Cyrus passed away on February 28, 2006. He had served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for Kentucky’s 98th Legislative District, beginning in 1975, and was elected to 11 consecutive terms before retiring in 1996. He was 70 years old when he passed away, and old reports from that time list his cause of death simply as “lung cancer.”

In March 2006, at the end of its regular session, both houses of the Kentucky State Legislature observed a moment of silence in honor of Ron Cyrus’s passing.

But now, in its 2009 session, the Kentucky legislature is once again recognizing the issue of mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, and, along with it, Ron Cyrus.

First, on Feb. 6, Representative Ancel Smith and Rep. Sannie Overly introduced HR95, a resolution to recognize September 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, as designated by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) and supported by U.S. Congressional resolution.

HR95 was established in Kentucky to honor “those who have fallen victim to this disease in the Commonwealth” and names “former legislator Ron Cyrus; Todd Hall, a bright, young University of Kentucky graduate who had started a successful business; [and] Allen Conley, a naval architect and marine engineer exposed to asbestos in the Yorktown, Virginia Naval shipbuilding yards…”

The resolution was adopted in the House by voice vote on Feb. 9.

Then, on Feb. 23, HB519 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives, sponsored by Representatives Ancel Smith, Keith Hall,  Tom Burch, Leslie Combs, Ted Edmonds, Jeff Greer and Brent Housman. The Act would designate Sept. 26 of each year as Mesothelioma Awareness Day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and would be known as “The Ron Cyrus and Todd Hall Mesothelioma Awareness Act of 2009.”

The bill passed the house by a vote of 97-0 on March 10, with 3 not voting.

The bill was introduced in the Senate designated as SB58, sponsored by Johnny Ray Turner, where it passed unanimously by a vote of 36-0 on March 3.

Read SB58.

Read HB519.

Read House Resolution 95.