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11-year-old UConn basketball teammate honored at Team Impact Gala

11-year-old UConn basketball teammate honored at Team Impact Gala
11-year-old UConn basketball teammate honored at Team Impact Gala 02:33

BOSTON - Hundreds of people gathered at The TRACK at New Balance for Team Impact's 11th annual Game Day Gala Thursday. 

"My hands were shaking profusely," Rylan Ellingwood told WBZ-TV, as he described being at the NCAA Basketball Championships. 

The 11-year-old is much smaller than your typical college athlete, but he's very much a part of UConn Men's Basketball team thanks to Team Impact. 

"Not every Team Impact kid gets to go to a championship game," WBZ-TV reporter Tiffany Chan asked. "What was the NCAA championships like?" 

"I've never seen so many people," Rylan replied. "My ears were ringing after." 

Rylan Ellingwood
Rylan Ellingwood at Team Impact Game Day Gala CBS Boston

Rylan joined the team as they celebrated on the court - as they captured a national title. But it wasn't always confetti and roaring crowds for this Team Impact kid. 

"He has an immune deficiency disorder, so he's the Bubble Boy. He has no immune system at all," his mother Tanya Ellingwood said. "He was so shy to the point where he just didn't want to talk or be around people." 

But that all changed when Rylan was matched with the Huskies and met the team's Director of Player Development, affectionately nicknamed "Mo." 

"It's amazing seeing someone grow and develop like that," Mamadou Diarra said. 

Rylan's mother described the bond as an instant connection. 

Both Rylan and Mo were honored at the Game Day Gala on Thursday - a night to raise money and awareness of the joy these matches can bring. 

"Once he gets in the locker room, he's with all the guys, he's no different," Diarra said. "Everybody has an impact on our team in all different shapes and sizes and for us to win a championship this year, we couldn't have done it without Rylan." 

The 11-year-old is no longer shy, but he is humble. 

"I am on the team, but Team Impact did that. They helped me get there," he said. 

In all, the Game Day Gala raised $3 million Thursday night.

If you have a special kid in mind who would benefit from Team Impact, you can find more information here.  

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