At the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, benefitting the March of Dimes and presented by Four Seasons Heating & Air Conditioning at the Hilton Chicago Monday night, there was Bull of the Year Taj Gibson taking a moment to honor his grandfather who passed away two days ago.
“I want to say I love you,” Gibson said. “Be with me in spirit.”
Chicago Fire rookie goaltender Sean Johnson’s mother made the trip from Georgia to see her son honored, and he bestowed one on her as well.
“She’s been there for the 21 years of my life, by my side,” Johnson said. “So she’s my Valentine tonight and I just want to say I love you.”
Before a sellout crowd of 1,000, inspirational athlete of the year Jonathon Ruiz, consigned at age 11 to a wheelchair by spinal bifida but a gold medal winner at the inaugural Paralympics Youth Games in Australia last October, had the simplest yet most powerful of messages:
“Never take anything in life, or life itself, for granted,” Jonathon said.
Bear of the Year--Israel Idonije
Idonije may not have been part of a victory over Green Bay in the NFC Championship game but he is an unqualified winner on a far bigger stage. The Bears defensive end was one of the three finalists for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his work with the children and needy in Nigeria through the Israel Idonije Foundation.
And Monday he was named the Four Seasons Heating & Air Conditioning Bear of the Year for 2010.
“I’ve just been extremely blessed,” Idonije said. “It’s an honor to receive this on behalf of an incredible group of people that allow us to do the work in our community. Tonight really symbolizes what community is all about.”