LEWISTON — This year's Dempsey Challenge raised more than $1 million before the first participant walked, ran or pedaled.
And there are more participants than before.
"We've already broken a few records," said Aimee Arsenault, event manager. "We have 4,202 participants registered, already beating the overall participant record of 4,177 set in 2010."
"And the biggest news of all, I am very happy to report that for the first time ever, we have already raised $1 million before the weekend has even started," Arsenault announced at a press conference Friday afternoon.
The press conference introduced several professional cyclists, including Levi Leiphamer, Tom Danielson, Freddie Rodriguez, Matt Updike, Kristen McGrath and Alison Tetrick.
The event was held at the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, which opened its new offices on the fifth floor of the former Knapp Shoe Building on Lowell Street in Lewiston. The move expanded the center from 2,000 square feet to 11,000.
The challenge's namesake and founder, actor Patrick Dempsey, talked Friday about the new offices and his continued pride in the community.
"It's great to see these old buildings come back to life," Dempsey said, choking up as he spoke. "It is the heart and soul of where this community comes from."
He added, "You have to remember where you've come from in order to move forward, and I think this is a great representation of that." The "Grey's Anatomy" star grew up in Turner and Buckfield.
Over the past three years, participants in the challenge have raised more than $2.6 million to benefit the Dempsey Center, which offers free services to people affected by cancer.