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Published on September 11, 2017

Tomah woman named Paula J. Tower Memorial Award winner

Every year the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care, supported by Gundersen Medical Foundation, awards the Paula J. Tower Memorial Award. The award honors one individual in the Coulee Region who has exemplified the selfless giving of time and energy to advance the message of hope for a future without breast cancer.

Kathy Steinmetz of Tomah, Wis., was honored for exemplifying the "Power of One" at the 12th annual Steppin' Out in Pink on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Kathy understands life with cancer and life after cancer. She is a four-year breast cancer survivor who has worked tirelessly to raise funds for Steppin' Out in Pink. From basket weaving classes to garden tours to annual fellowship hours at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Tomah, she is a true ambassador for the cause.

Team Special Kathy—now 30 members strong—was created by two of Kathy's confirmation students following her cancer diagnosis in 2013. Every year since, her Steppin' Out in Pink team has grown larger and larger. “That is in no small way due to Kathy's energy and commitment,” says Annette Eagen, who nominated her for the award.

On top of Kathy's support for local breast cancer research, she is also a phenomenal mentor and friend to others diagnosed with cancer.

"Kathy makes herself available to anyone who needs a shoulder to cry on and her always listening ears. She missed the Tomah Fourth of July Parade this year because she was visiting a friend with cervical cancer. She has regularly checked in with my mother-in-law who recently finished chemotherapy for colon cancer. I am honored to know and love her," says Annette.

The Paula J. Tower award was established to honor Paula Tower's legacy and to remember the difference just one person can make. Paula was a mammography technologist who worked at Gundersen for more than 16 years. In July 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her body surrendered to the disease in 2007.

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