LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

In just a few short days, people will be lining the streets of La Crosse decked out in pink for the annual Steppin' Out in Pink event for breast cancer.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars is raised at the event, but many wonder where the money goes and who it helps.

Last year Steppin’ Out in Pink participants raised about $430,000. Organizers said the money goes towards research, education and equipment, but most importantly, all of the money stays here in our community.

“The first year, they anticipated 500 walkers and had 2,900 and then last year we had 6,700 walkers,” said Debbie Kroner, special events coordinator with Gundersen Medical Foundation.

Ever since the annual breast cancer event, Steppin’ Out in Pink, started nine years ago, it seems to grow by the thousands every year.

"Last year it was a phenomenal year, we had 1,100 more walkers than we did the previous year,” said Kroner.

Not only does the event grow in size, but also in the amount of money raised; and that money has one simple goal to help breast cancer patient’s right here in our community.

“All of the money stays locally,” said Kroner.

“Breast cancer patients experience every type of treatment you can basically have for cancer, so they do everything from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation, so there is not one piece that is more important than the other,” said Sarah Archer, administrative director of cancer services at Gundersen Health System.

That is why the money is used in a variety of ways from research to technology upgrades. The entire mammography portion of the hospital has switched from analog to digital.

“Digital mammography is easier to be able to manipulate the images, the images are crisper, a little clearer and we can blow the image up,” said Deb Kane with Gundersen Health System.

Another machine often used for breast cancer patients is the linear accelerator.

"The money from Steppin’ Out in Pink has helped supply us with things such as prone breast boards. They are boards we put on the table and couch which helps position the patients in the appropriate position so we are able to give them the radiation more accurate,” said Archer.

And with additional money every year, the Gundersen Medical Foundation has been able to give more money directly to the patients

"We give money for women and men in the area who are uninsured or under insured for mammograms and money for breast cancer patients direct patient care,” said Kroner.

These are just a few examples of how the money raised at Steppin’ Out In Pink directly helps friends, neighbors and those around us and with every dollar raised comes more hope for finding a cure.

“I think we are going to do greater and greater things as years come,” said Archer.

Along with continuing to provide educational opportunities for staff members and funding for patients who need help with medical bills and procedures, the money this year will go towards hiring a new local researcher.

If you would still like to sign up for this year’s Steppin’ Out in Pink event, you can still register online at steppinoutinpink.org or register the same day of the event. The registration tent opens at 7:30 a.m. The cost for adults is $25, for children between the ages of 5 and 12, it is $5.