Bradley Lowery’s parents were given a standing ovation as they accepted an award on his behalf at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.
Gemma and Carl Lowery wiped away tears as they were greeted on stage by England player Harry Kane and national team manager Gareth Southgate.
The Sunderland fan, who died in July aged six, was honoured posthumously with the Helen Rollason award.
His emotional parents looked on as a crowd of sporting heroes and celebrities stood and applauded.
His mother Gemma told the audience: ‘I’m slightly overwhelmed but I’m absolutely honoured to receive this on behalf of Bradley.
‘Bradley was only here for six years but the nation took him into their hearts and he raised so much awareness for childhood cancer that was unbelievable and I’m so proud of him
‘We’ve set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation because we want to continue the good work he’s done. Not only will we be supporting people with fundraising but we will be giving grants out.
‘We want to build an amazing house for sick children to go and be able to enjoy, have some normality and have some special memories because all we’ve got left is those memories but we treasure them every day and we want to give that back
‘Thank you so much for your continued support and we couldn’t do it without you and together we can make a difference.’
Lowery suffered from neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer – from the age of 18 months and captured the nation’s hearts during a number of appearances as a mascot.
He struck up a close friendship with former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe and the pair led out England at Wembley for a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania in March.
The Helen Rollason award was introduced in 1999 in memory of BBC Sport journalist and presenter Helen Rollason MBE, who lost her battle with cancer in that year, aged 43. Previous winners include Sir Frank Williams and Jane Tomlinson.
Speaking backstage, his mother Gemma said: ‘We cannot explain how much this means to us and how much we appreciate everybody’s support as we’ve dealt with this horrendous heartache – it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning.’
She explained that the foundation they have set up in their son’s memory is now providing grants to parents in the same situation as them.
‘We originally thought we would limit it to cancer but we got money and support from all parts of the country and from all cultures, so we don’t want to limit it – we want it to be open all under-18s with a serious illness,’ she said.
‘We want our grants to be incentives – if you raise £10,000, we’ll give you £10,000 – but we also want to share our experiences. When we started, we didn’t know anything about fund-raising or social media.’
As well as the foundation, the Lowerys have also linked up with Sunderland to start a ‘For Bradley’ campaign to build a holiday home for children with terminal illnesses.
‘We’re still at the planning stage but we’d love it to be in Scarborough, because we went there two weeks before Bradley’s death and we have amazing memories,’ Gemma said.
Sunderland, of course, did their part to mark this special weekend for the family by winning their first home game for a year on Saturday, beating Fulham 1-0.
‘Bradley would have been so made up about that – I don’t think he ever saw them win,’ his mother joked.