LEWISTON — When the second annual Dempsey Challenge kicks off in October, the event’s namesake will be in the crowd.

Once again, actor Patrick Dempsey, a Lewiston native, plans to cycle the 50-mile course on Sunday, Oct. 3. He also plans to participate in the challenge’s 5K or 10K walk at his mother’s side on Oct. 2.

Last year, Dempsey and his mother, Amanda, were together for the short survivors’ walk at the challenge’s end. She is a two-time survivor of ovarian cancer.

“My mother was kind of overwhelmed by the walk,” Dempsey said Tuesday in a phone interview. “She couldn’t quite grasp what was happening at first. Then, a week after the event, she really wanted to move closer to the center, participate and become more involved.”

Proceeds from the challenge help pay the operating budget of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center, which Dempsey helped establish in 2008. The center offers aid, including counseling, acupuncture and massage, to people with cancer and their families. All services are free.

Dempsey connects with the center daily, often through his sister, Mary Dempsey. A nurse, she works as the center’s volunteer corps manager.


“I hear the good and the bad,” Patrick Dempsey said.

Despite a crippling schedule, he plans to attend both days of the challenge.

The actor is currently filming “Gray’s Anatomy” for TV and he is playing a role in the third movie of the massive “Transformers” franchise. It’s a good role with the biggest budget of his decades-long career, he said.

Both productions changed their schedules to accommodate his charity, he said.

“Everyone I work with is aware of these dates and what the event is about and they changed the schedules around to make it work,” Dempsey said. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really good people who understand what’s going on.”

Last year’s one-day inaugural challenge raised more than $1 million and had 3,500 participants. With almost two months to go, this year’s two-day event already has 2,775 registrants from 32 states, center spokesman Mark Turcotte said.


The challenge is on a pace to surpass last year’s numbers, which were capped at 3,500. This year, the cap is 7,000 people for the noncompetitive events, which include the 5K and 10K walk/runs on Oct. 2 and the 10-, 25-, 50- and 100-mile bicycle rides on Oct. 3. On both days, Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston will be the site for a festival with food courts, live entertainment and related activities.

Tour de France star Chris Horner is scheduled to accompany Dempsey. Professional cyclist George Hincapie, who rode last year, is also slated to return.

Other celebrity riders may join them but schedules are uncertain, Dempsey said. Either way, Dempsey plans to attend and, as much as he can, talk with folks.

“I really want to be there and be around people,” he said. “Last year, we had people come from all over the country. And some of their stories of how they got there and why they were there were very moving.”

He was also moved by the survivors’ walk.

“You look at their faces and the faces of their families,” he said. “They’re still there fighting and surviving.”

It makes the effort worthwhile, he said.

“It’s probably the greatest thing I have ever been a part of in my life,” Dempsey said.


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