PROVO — Proud parents of 54 Utah County elementary students crowded the Provo City Library Ballroom to cheer them on at the 14th annual Great Kids Awards Wednesday evening.

The one-hour event spotlighted two students from each elementary school in the Orem and Provo areas. Teachers and principals nominated the students for overcoming struggles and defeating challenges in their lives.

"These kids represent excellence," said Steve Densley, president of the Provo Orem Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the awards. "They represent the values of their schools and should be recognized."

As each of their names was read, the dapperly dressed youngsters marched up to receive an award certificate while grandparents popped up out of the 300-person audience, zealously cheered and shot a barrage of flash photos paparazzi-style. Students also received a T-shirt, backpack and an autographed football from professional football player Ryan Denney of the Buffalo Bills.

The tall, wide-shouldered NFL defensive end leaned down to talk into an already extended microphone and told the young honorees how to conquer life's obstacles in three steps: set goals, work hard and always say "I can do it."

"I know, that last one seems silly, just to say that," the former BYU Pplayer said, grinning. "But at my house, with my three kids, no one is allowed to say 'I can't.' They get in trouble." Tucking his newly signed football under his arms, 11-year-old Drake Seifert said the program was "way cool."

"I was really surprised to get it," he said. "I feel like I've been working hard and it's awesome for that to be recognized." This year's event was sponsored by Agel Enterprises and Rocky Mountain Power.