PROVO, Utah -- More than a thousand children visited Brigham Young University Thursday to meet some of their favorite sports heroes.
When children reach the fifth and sixth grades they enter what experts call "The Hero Stage."
Casey Peterson is the learning director for the BYU Center for Service, and he said to help children with this phase, the center and BYU Athletics hosts an annual Sports Hero Day.
"They're looking for heroes,” Peterson said. “And when they're trying to find who they are themselves they look to other people and they say, ‘I want to be like this person, or I want to be like that person.’”
Sixth graders from various elementary schools in Utah County gathered together in groups. The children went to different sports stations where they met athletes and played games.
Chelsea Fairbourn is the director of the Sports Hero Day Program, and she said it gives kids the chance to meet athletes.
"They get to come and catch a pass from Taysom Hill and go run alongside Jamaal Williams--it's something that they normally wouldn't be able to do, and we kinda make it happen for them,” she said.
This special day allows all of the kids to meet BYU athletes on a one-on-one basis and hear advice on how they too can become heroes.
"You don't need to be a really good football player, a really good volleyball player, or a really good dancer to be a hero... You just need to be you," BYU Quarterback Taysom Hill told the crowd of students.
Nikisha Fernandes is a forward on BYU’s soccer team, and she said she has enjoyed the event.
"Already I have had a couple girls come up to me and say, 'I love watching you play soccer,' and it's kind of emotional because we grow up wanting to play the game that we love and now we can be an example to so many kids, and that's what I think the best part of all of this is, is to know we are making an impression on all these young kids,” she said.
It's an experience that is fun, educational and memorable for the students.
"I just had a really fun time and these BYU athletes are really amazing,” one student said.
Through this program, BYU athletes hope to inspire and connect with sixth grade students for years to come.