Thousands walk to fight against breast cancer - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Thousands walk to fight against breast cancer

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

On Saturday morning, the Gundersen Medical Foundation hosted the 12th Annual Steppin' Out in Pink.

Breast cancer survivors with their families and supporters walked to raise awareness about breast cancer. The four and a half mile walk started at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse and went around town. For the first time this year, participants had the option of a shorter two and a half mile walk as well.

Scott Rathgaber, CEO of Gundersen Health System, said the event grows every year.

"They actually bring us energy and bring us enthusiasm," Rathgaber said. "When we see the growing number of survivors, it really inspires us to do better work every day."

One La Crosse woman walked on Saturday morning for the first time as a breast cancer survivor. Brooke Schmaltz, 37, has walked for years supporting her mother who is also a survivor. Brooke was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer last year. She said walking as a survivor this year has been extra emotional.

"There's been some tears, especially coming out of the survivor tent and taking the pictures," Schmaltz said. "Also, I feel camaraderie with all the other survivors, and it makes me stronger."

This year, a record-breaking 6,300 people were pre-registered for the walk including 452 survivors. 

Since 2006, Steppin' Out in Pink has raised $4.3 million. That money funds local breast cancer research and programs.

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