PHOTOS: Wheaton Teen Inspires Chicago Athletes at Comcast SportsNet Awards

Connor McHugh shines as honoree at Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards.

About $900,000 was raised last week for the March of Dimes during the 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, a record-high for the event, according to a press release from March of Dimes.

Past and present iconic pro athletes took the stage to receive honors at the event that, to date, has raise about $11 million for March of Dimes. 

The honorees are top athletes from Chicago's professional teams who have made considerable contributions to their teams, as well as the Chicago community.

But the pinnacle moment of the evening was in , with the 2013 "Inspirational Athlete” award.

McHugh, from St. Michael Parish School in Wheaton, has persevered as a standout athlete, football team coach and student, despite being born with a birth defect.

"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."

This year's “Player of the Year” and ”Team Legend” honorees included:

  • Roberto Garza, “Bear of the Year”
  • Otis Wilson, “Bears Legend”
  • Richard "Rip" Hamilton, “Bull of the Year” 
  • Bob Love, “Bulls Legend”
  • Dave Bolland, “Blackhawk of the Year”
  • Eddie Olczyk, “Blackhawks Legend”
  • Darwin Barney, “Cub of the Year”
  • Ernie Banks, “Cubs Legend”
  • Chris Sale, “White Sox of the Year”
  • Frank Thomas, “White Sox Legend”
  • Patrick Nyarko, “Fire of the Year”
  • Frank Klopas, “Fire Legend"  

About 1,200 guests attended the reception, ceremony and dinner, as well as the silent auction featuring Chicago sports packages, which raised a record $31,000. The auction also included vacation packages including airfare, autographed jerseys of star athletes, tickets for sporting events, golf outings, spa packages, dinner packages, hotel stays and more. The top-selling signed jersey went for $792 of Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose.

The “Fund the Mission” activity, in which guests donate directly to the March of Dimes mission of preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality in an auction-style format, raised $204,000.

The awards ceremony aired on Comcast SportsNet in HD at 11 p.m. that evening. For more information, visit CSNChicago.com/sportsawards25.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health that works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.                  


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