LEWISTON — For $150 at McKesson, workers can take over their bosses' sweet parking spots for a week.
They've happily forked over.
"I knocked my manager out, and so it's with pleasure I get to watch her for the whole week park out back," said Hillary Verrill, a senior operations supervisor for the medical information technology company.
The friendly parking war is one the company's many internal challenges as employees raise money for the fourth Dempsey Challenge. McKesson, participating for the first time, has the event's largest team: 164 people. They've raised more than $10,000.
With two weeks to go, this Dempsey Challenge is on pace to break fundraising and participation records, according to event manager Aimee Arsenault.
At 3,600, registration is running 600 people ahead of this time last year. Donations are up $40,000 ahead of this time last year.
In 2011, 3,800 people ran, walked and biked to raise nearly $1.2 million for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center. The center, which provides free programming and support to families living with and recovering from cancer, had its best challenge year in 2010 when 4,100 people raised $1.2 million.
"Hopefully we can break that record," Arsenault said.
The event will kick off Friday, Oct. 12, with an open house at the center's new headquarters at 29 Lowell Square. After a $1 million renovation on the fifth floor of the former Knapp shoe building, the center reopened there Sept. 20. Much of the work was paid for in donations.
Arsenault said they plan to install a sign facing Main Street to raise center's visibility and hope to help more people in the spacious new office.
"We want folks to be able to come into our doors and see the work that we're doing," she said.
Friday night will bring the first Dempsey Challenge Community Celebration: A bonus Art Walk Lewiston-Auburn with art themed on "hope, healing and survival," wine and beer tastings, live music, dance and special promotions at several downtown locations from 5 p.m. to midnight.
"There will be a hubbub of things just going on downtown," Arsenault said.
The 5K and 10K walk/run will be held Saturday, biking events Sunday. Lincoln Street from Cedar Street to Alfred Plourde Parkway will close for 90 minutes Saturday morning to accommodate runners.
If his schedule allows, actor and Maine native Patrick Dempsey plans several appearances, Arsenault said: Opening ceremonies both days, the survivor's walk Saturday and closing ceremonies. He'll bike the 50-mile route Sunday.
Professional cyclists Levi Leipheimer, Fred Rodriguez, Chris Horner and Tom Danielson will all return to the challenge. Mike Updike, who just won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics in the handcycling team relay, will join them for the first time.
"We just felt like his story had so many parallels with the cancer journey," Arsenault said.
Updike, an avid biker, was paralyzed from the waist down in an auto accident, then picked up handcycling.
About 450 people have signed up to volunteer for Dempsey Challenge weekend. Four hundred more are still needed.
"It's just heartening to see the way the community has really responded to the challenge and taken ownership of it," Arsenault said. "We feel really supported and really appreciated. We really hope we're giving back as well."
At McKesson, Verrill said the company picks a new charity to support every three years. The McKesson Foundation has made donations on behalf of employees who volunteer their time.
She plans to walk in the event with her 10-year-old son in bright McKesson orange. "We're going to be sticking out," she said.
The top fundraising team so far is Team Angela, named for 39-year-old Angela Black from Bath. She had been a patient at the center and active in past challenges. Black died in August. Her teammates are trying to raise $39,000 in her honor, Arsenault said. On Friday, they were up to $35,436.