Nearly 2,100 hardy souls participated in the annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica in Salt Lake City Saturday.

The walk began at 9 a.m. in Sugarhouse Park with the release of 10,000 balloons by volunteers from AT&T. The route was 20 kilometers, about 12 miles. It went from Sugarhouse Park, through the University of Utah and Research Park, along South Temple, to Liberty Park and back to Sugarhouse Park.Dee Brewer, spokesman for the March of Dimes, said WalkAmerica is the organization's biggest fund-raising event of the year. The money generated by WalkAmerica helps fund 25 research and educational programs in Utah. Brewer said the walk will produce nearly $225,000 in pledges in Utah.

About 28 walks were held around the state, attracting approximately 7,000 participants. About 100 teams from various corporations, clubs and families joined in the walk.

Nationwide, hundreds of walks took place Saturday with approximately 600,000 people participating.