Thousands of walkers paraded from McCorkle Place on the UNC campus to Lincoln Center on Merritt Mill Road in support of public education.
Participants in the fourth annual Walk for Education on Saturday represented each of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools as well as Village Charter School, earning money for the school system through donations.
"I just think it's wonderful that so many people came out today," said walker and Carrboro Alderman Allen Spalt. "People say public schools are under assault and troubled, but this is evidence of all the good things going on with public education."
At Saturday's walk, community support translated directly into fund-raising and fun.
By 4:30 p.m., a running total counted by organizers reached $56,000, said Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education member Nicholas Didow, a long-term volunteer with the Public School Foundation, the nonprofit, independent organization sponsoring the event.
"The money was raised prior to the event by students, teachers and staff who collected donations for their schools generally or sometimes for specific school projects," said Carolyn Epstein, executive director of the Public School Foundation.
Walkers took donations before the walk, and participation was upped by incentives provided. For instance, children who collected more than $25 were awarded a free T-shirt.
The school spirit award went to Glenwood Elementary School based on participation. They won a $50 gift certificate.
The foundation will redistribute most of that money to individual schools in the school system based on student participation and donations, Didow said.