On a night filled with Chicago sports stars and legends known to millions of fans, 13-year-old Connor McHugh earned the loudest applause.
McHugh, of Wheaton, received a standing ovation from the crowd as he accepted the Inspirational Athlete Award at Thursday's Comcast SportsNet Sports Award in Chicago. The 25th annual event raised $890,000 for the Illinois March of Dimes.
"Words cannot describe how much this award means to me," he said at the end of his brief speech.
Born without arms, and also missing the fibula bone in one leg and three toes, Connor appeared cool and confident throughout the night, but never more than during his time on stage delivering his speech.
He spoke of his love for football and history, which were also featured in a video detailing Connor's life. He even poked fun at his three older siblings before thanking his family for their role in his life.
"My disabilities do not stop me from doing what I love," he said. "It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone."
After concluding his speech to more applause, Connor was joined on stage by Chicago sports dignitaries and many others in attendance.
"I find great strength ... from people like Connor," Patrick Nyarko, of the Chicago Fire, said earlier in the night. "We can all learn a little something from people like Connor."
Connor also received shout outs from Fire Head Coach Frank Klopas and Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland.
Earlier in the evening, Connor welcomed and chatted with a steady flow of well-wishers, many of whom posed for pictures with the eighth grader at St. Michael Parish School. Chuck Garfien, who featured Connor's story on Comcast SportsNet, also stopped by to talk with the McHugh family.
"Everybody wants to swarm me," Connor said of the attention.
Patti McHugh, Connor's mother, said her son was unaffected as always by the attention his life has received - even on a night as big as the one he had Thursday.