9th annual Dempsey Challenge this weekend

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Jeff St. Amand, owner of L/A Music Productions, unloads staging Monday morning at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston in preparation for the weekend’s Dempsey Challenge.

LEWISTON — The ninth annual Dempsey Challenge will take place Oct. 7 and 8 at Simard-Payne Memorial Park at 46 Beech St. in Lewiston.

In 2008, actor Patrick Dempsey founded the Dempsey Center with the intention of giving back to the community where he grew up, and where his mother first received ovarian cancer treatment in 1997. Since then, thousands of cancer-fighting supporters gather in Lewiston to challenge themselves physically and make a difference in their community.

The challenge consists of a 5K and a 10K run/walk, and cycling from 10 miles to 100 miles. For those looking to really immerse themselves in the challenge, there is a 140-mile, two-day ride, sponsored by L.L.Bean.

The two-day ride will include special guest George Hincapie, a former professional cyclist, who competed in a record 17 Ronde van Vlaanderen races, and finished second at the Paris-Roubaix, the best ever for any American. He also rode in the Tour de France 17 times and won three U.S. National Road Race championships.

Those who participate in the two-day ride will be treated to a gourmet dinner prepared by grand chef Jonathan Cartwright, formerly of the five-star-rated White Barn Inn in Kennebunk. According to the Portland Press Herald, Cartwright was hired by the inn’s original owner, Laurence J. “Laurie” Bongiorno, who died of cancer in 2007.

New to the challenge this year is the #Hashtag Photo Wall presented by Spectrum Healthcare Partners. Anyone can take a picture at any time during the challenge, and upload it to their Instagram or Twitter profile with #DempseyChallenge and #SpectrumCares4ME.

Those photos will be available from a printer in the park, with unlimited printouts. On Saturday, prints will be available from 7 to 11 a.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m to 5 p.m.

Photos can be taken home, shared with family and friends, and stuck to the photo wall in the park, which organizers are hoping will become a collage of smiling faces by the end of the weekend.

All photos will also appear on a live feed screen in the park.

The fun begins early Saturday, with Dempsey leading the opening ceremony at 7 a.m.

Participants in the 10K walk/run will leave at 7:30 a.m and the 5Kers will leave at 8.

Cyclists of the two-day ride will depart at 9 a.m.

At 10, the Amgen “Breakaway from Cancer” Survivor Walk, a Dempsey Challenge tradition, will take place, in which cancer survivors and those still fighting walk through a parted, cheering crowd in the park in a parade-like fashion. Amgen sponsors the challenge.

There will also be a children’s Fun Run at 11 a.m, and a family-friendly festival, free and open to the public, in the park from 8 a.m to 1 p.m, featuring live music, food and activities.

On Sunday, another early welcome from Patrick Dempsey at 7 a.m, and the cyclists, riding distances of 10, 25, 50, 70 or 100 miles, will be released in waves, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

The 100-mile ride will take riders on a loop through Casco on the way to Bridgton, around Long Lake and back to Lewiston through Oxford. 

Shorter distances will follow similar routes, with the 50-mile ride going as far as Poland, and the 25-mile looping through the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Dempsey will ride in the 25-mile challenge.

The family-friendly festival will continue Sunday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m,  and the closing ceremony, led by Dempsey, will take place at 4 p.m.

The deadline for all fundraising incentives is 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

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The Dempsey Challenge will kick off at 7 a.m Saturday, Oct. 7, at Simard-Payne Memorial Park, 46 Beech St. in Lewiston.

It will continue all day Sunday, Oct. 8.

A map of the 5K walk/run can be found here.

A map of the 10K walk/run can be found here.

For more information, visit www.dempseycenter.org.  

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