The third annual Dempsey Challenge presented by Amgen attracted 3,834 runners, walkers and cyclists from 34 states, plus Canada, Dubai, Germany and Switzerland, and raised over one million dollars to benefit The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center.
The events took place during the weekend of October 8 and 9 at Simard-Payne Park in Lewiston.
The L.L.Bean 5K and 10K run/walk events took place on Saturday, Oct. 8, followed by Fundraising Rides of 10, 25, 50, 70 and 100 miles presented by Exergy Development Group the following day. Other highlights included the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor Walk, Auburn Firefighters Local 797 Kids’ Fun Run and the free, family-friendly Festival in the Park, which included the Concentra Health and Wellness Expo and live entertainment.
Actor and Maine native Patrick Dempsey created the event to serve as the primary fundraising vehicle for the center, which opened its doors in March 2008, and provides free support, education and wellness services to anyone affected by cancer regardless of where treatment is received.
Dempsey participated in weekend festivities and pedaled the 50-mile route alongside professional cyclists Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Freddie Rodriguez, Bernhard Eisel, Coryn Rivera, Kristin McGrath and former pros Davis and Connie Phinney.
Top fundraisers were honored at the Champions for Hope Celebration on Saturday night. Harold Marden of Lewiston earned individual honors with $10,316, while the Buddha Rubbers totaled $23,380, taking the top team award for the second straight year.
Of the 381 fundraising teams, The Maine Cycling Club recruited the most team members with 69, and Ainsley Smart received contributions from the most donors (236).
Dustin Bisson led the way for Positive Tracks fundraising. The new initiative, made possible though a generous grant through Jane’s Trust and supporting partners, matches the fundraising of youth ages 23 or under, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. Bisson, a 15-year-old racecar driver from Greene, raised $6,700 selling bracelets, which contained 18 beads, each representing a different type of cancer. Team Positive Traction led the way for youth-oriented teams with $8,200.
Mother of five and 22-year cancer survivor Laura Davis was presented with the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor Award, which is presented to a survivor from the region who, among other qualities, demonstrates a passion for helping others.
“The true blessing for me was to share the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer award with the thousands of people whose lives have been touched by cancer and who came out to the Dempsey Challenge,” said Davis. “Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer really advocates that every cancer patient is a survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of their lives, no matter how long that may be. It is this concept that allows us, as cancer survivors, to provide inspiration and hope to each other.”
The 2012 Dempsey Challenge is scheduled for Oct. 13 and 14. Registration is available through the event website: www.dempseychallenge.org.