Stars including Nashville's Charles EstenChris YoungDon Henley, Joe WalshRonnie Milsap and more were on hand at 8th annual TJ Martell Foundation Nashville Honors Gala on Monday night (Feb. 29), to pay homage to honorees including Kenny Rogers. The country icon received the 2016 Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award.

"This is a different award: This is not for great singing or great this or great that. This is a philanthropy award," Rogers tells The Boot, "and this family has done some phenomenal things towards cancer. I admire families who live up to the promises they make to their children.

"It was so exciting for me," he continues. "When they offered me this award, they gave me the opportunity to help me raise money [for the TJ Martell Foundation], and I was happy to do it."

Tony Martell founded the TJ Martell Foundation in honor of his son, the organization's namesake, who passed away in 1975 from cancer, two years after he received his diagnosis. Tony Martell, a prominent music industry executive, promised his son that he would raise a million dollars for cancer research. It's a cause that Young is proud to support.

"I have had a lot of people survive cancer in my family: My grandmother survived breast cancer. My dad actually survived lung cancer; he was going to Vanderbilt when he beat lung cancer. It’s a cool thing to be here tonight and be a small part of it," Young explains to The Boot. "And then also to be here because Dr. Pietenpol from Vanderbilt wanted me to come and play some music tonight. It’s just a really, really great event, and I’m so glad that all of Nashville is coming out.

"I see so many people that I know and have worked beside. This is a great event for me to come out and support," he adds. "Things like this are so important, because when things are going so well, one of the No. 1 things you can do is give back your time ... Just being a supporter of something like what [the] TJ Martell [Foundation] is doing is such an important thing for you to do."

Esten returned as the evening's emcee for the fourth year.

"The TJ Martell gala, that’s never normal," the actor-slash-singer notes. "There’s something special about it, always. It’s a thrill."

The 2016 TJ Martell Foundation Nashville Honors Gala raised more than $500,000. More information about the organization, including how to donate, is available on the TJ Martell Foundation website.

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