LEWISTON — A crowd of about 100 participants, fundraisers and onlookers watched as Patrick Dempsey took the stage Sunday afternoon at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston to close out the 10th annual Dempsey Challenge.
During his closing comments, Dempsey gave thanks to the event’s fundraisers and volunteers, the driving forces who make the Challenge possible.
“(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, to support cancer patients and their families.
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.
“There’s still a rider out there,” Dempsey joked. “He left at midnight.”
“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.
As the ceremony ended and participants filtered out of Simard-Payne Memorial Park, vendors loaded wares and equipment into box trucks and the L.L.Bean Bootmobile slowly headed across the small bridge over the canal.
The 11th annual Dempsey Challenge is set for next Sept. 28 and 29. Dempsey told the crowd he hoped it will be the largest ever.
Edward Little High School cheerleaders encourage Caden Cox of Hebron as he rides Sunday in the 25-mile Dempsey Challenge bike ride. Cox is an eighth-grader at Tripp Middle School in Turner. He was photographed in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Neil Bement, left, of Auburn and Lyle Uecker of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, share a moment at the mile 4 rest stop on Penley Corner Road in Auburn during the Dempsey Challenge bike ride on Sunday. Bement, a survivor of both colon cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, wore a hospital gown and plastic buttocks as a way to celebrate being cancer free. Uecker was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2009 and has participated in every Dempsey Challenge since. “We get a picture together each year to prove that we are still alive,” Uecker said about Bement and himself. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Susie Morton of Madison, Wisconsin, gives Patrick Dempsey a hug at the mile 12 rest stop on Stackpole Road in Durham during the Dempsey Challenge bike ride on Sunday. Morton, was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was 10-years-old and was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer one month ago. She and nine friends rode together for team Q’s Minions. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Cyclists turn the corner Sunday from Riverside Drive onto the Penley Corner Road in Auburn as a hot air balloon flies overhead during the Dempsey Challenge bike ride. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Patrick Dempsey, center, leads riders at the start of the 25-mile Dempsey Challenge bike ride Sunday in Lewiston. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Isabella Rodriguez, 10, hangs onto mom, Annie Rodriguez, before the start of the Dempsey Challenge bike ride in Lewiston on Sunday. Isabella’s dad is four-time U.S. National Road Race champion Freddie Rodriguez, who travels each year from California to participate in the Dempsey Challenge. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Lyle Uecker of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, rides with his radiation treatment mask on the front of his bicycle. Uecker wore the mask during radiation treatments after being diagnosed with lymphoma in 2009. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
The race number of Joe Dulac lays on Oxford Street while he and his daughter, Olivia, get ready to participate in the Dempsey Challenge bike ride on Sunday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Patrick Dempsey talks with Dempsey Challenge volunteers participants at the mile 12 rest stop on Stackpole Road in Durham on Sunday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Issak Anokye, 7, of Hebron spends time with his mother, Darcy Anokye, at the 22 mile rest stop during the Dempsey Challenge 25 mile bike ride in Auburn on Sunday. Issak rode with his grandfather, Tim Guerin. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Neil Bement of Auburn and his wife Sue cheer for cyclists as they pass the mile 4 rest stop on Penley Corner Road in Auburn during the Dempsey Challenge bike ride on Sunday. Bement, a survivor of both colon cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said he has dressed up for the past ten Dempsey Challenge events as a way to celebrate being cancer free. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Edward Little High School cheerleaders encourage cyclists as they nearly finish the 25 mile Dempsey Challenge bike ride in Auburn on Sunday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)