LEWISTON — A crowd of about 100 participants, fundraisers and onlookers watched as Patrick Dempsey took the stage at Simard-Payne Park in Lewiston to close out the 10th annual Dempsey Challenge on Sunday.

During his closing comments, the actor and Buckfield native gave thanks to the event’s fundraisers and volunteers, the driving forces who make the Challenge possible.

The event raises money to support cancer patients and their families.

The volunteers are “here because they want to be,” Dempsey said. “You can see it in their eyes.”

The Challenge raised $1.2 million this year, not counting the donations collected during registration and raised during the event.

About 3,200 riders and walkers participated in the event, and 372 teams worked to raise money for the Dempsey Center, with the last riders crossing the finish line just before the closing ceremony at 4 p.m.

“I like seeing all the support for people who need help fighting cancer,” said Rick Smith, a volunteer ham radio operator for the Challenge. “The new route was great, and we couldn’t ask for a more beautiful ride.”

Dempsey also thanked corporate donors, including Gritty’s Brewpub, Baxter Brewing Co. and Amgen Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Thousand Oaks, California.

Dempsey also applauded fundraisers who raised $10,000 or more.

The Dempsey Center was founded in 2008 by Dempsey and his siblings to honor their mother, Amanda Dempsey, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died in 2014 after fighting the cancer for 17 years.

In 2017, the Dempsey Center merged with Cancer Community Center, a 19-year-old South Portland nonprofit. Both are now called Dempsey Center.

The centers provide free cancer support, education and complementary therapies, including massage therapy, Reiki and acupuncture, regardless of where patients and families live and where patients received their treatment.

filed under: