Participation was down at the 2012 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago this summer, but this year’s fundraising total did top last year’s tally.

More than 2,800 people from all over the country participated in the walk last month, which raised over $6 million for breast cancer research, according to an Avon press release.

Each participant is required to raise at least $1,800, but everyone is encouraged to raise as much as possible. More than half of the money raised in Chicago was given to 10 local organizations such as Lurie Comprehensive Care Center at Northwestern University, in the form of grants.

While fundraising is the main goal of the event, it also inspires and supports breast cancer victims and their families. There were 340 survivors who participated in the walk, and their fellow walkers said hearing stories of hope was one of the highlights of the weekend.

“This event is nice because it’s two days, it promotes camaraderie,” said Mike Goffman, a four-year veteran of the walk. “You get to meet interesting people on the walk; you get to know their stories, learn more about their lives, and really connect with people.”

Education is at the core of the walk, added Claire Scanlon, who has participated in the event for three years. She stressed that it’s important for everyone to understand the severity and impact of breast cancer. Regardless of their reason for participating, the walkers encouraged everyone to get involved with future events, whether they simply donate or pound the pavement.

“It doesn’t take that much time,” Goffman said, “to donate a weekend of your life each year…to fundraise and promote awareness. We can all afford to get out there and help fight this disease.”