Alyssa Whitmore, 7, of Auburn, right, checks out the new Specialized bicycle her sister, Abby Whitmore, 10, received Wednesday evening at the Dempsey Center in Lewiston. Ten local children received free Specialized bicycles and helmets for pledging to raise $1,000 each during the upcoming Dempsey Challenge on Sept. 29 and 30 in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — When a 7-year-old boy is given a new bicycle, no words are needed to understand how he feels.

Isaak Anokye sat on his new Specialized bicycle outside Central Maine Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon and smiled nonstop for half an hour.

He played with the levers. He bent down to inspect a brake pad. He worked the kickstand. He leaned back with both hands on the handlebars and just stared off, no doubt imagining the many adventures to come.

“I like it,” he said, and kept smiling.

It was the same for Abby, a 10-year-old whose mother is a cancer survivor. Ditto for Nick Dexter, a 12-year-old from Oakland whose grandmother was diagnosed six years ago.

Ten kids were given bicycles (and helmets) Wednesday as the Dempsey Center celebrated a decade of the Dempsey Challenge, an event that raises money to help cancer victims and their families.

“This all came together rather quickly,” Nancy Audet, communications manager at the center, said of the bike giveaway.

The families who received bicycles Wednesday are asked to try generating $1,000 worth of donations for this year’s Dempsey Challenge. But the kids were not thinking about that as their new bicycles were wheeled over to them outside the center on Lowell Street.

Who could blame them if all they thought about was riding?

“He just loves to ride a pedal bike,” said Isaak’s grandfather, Tim, of Hebron, who taught the boy to ride when he was 4½ years old.

Isaak and his grandfather plan to ride together in the Dempsey Challenge in September, Tim said. Isaak, as it happens, has already pedaled in a 26-mile marathon, finishing 24 of those miles.

But for Tim, the Dempsey Challenge is not just about free stuff or bonding with his grandson. He knows the benefits of raising funds for cancer victims and their families. His son survived a tumor found inside his bladder, his girlfriend recently had a melanoma removed and his sister has leukemia.

When Dexter, the 12-year-old, rides his new Specialized bicycle, he might think about his grandmother, Mary Ann, who survived a cancer scare six years ago. In fact, Mary Ann plans to walk the challenge this year — unless her grandson decides they should ride it.

“I would gladly ride it with him,” Mary Ann said. “He’s the best.”

The bikes were donated by Specialized, a bicycle company out of California that has been working with the Dempsey Challenge for 10 years.

“I’m jealous,” Dempsey Fundraising Coordinator Tish Caldwell said. “I would really like one of these bikes.”

But the kids did not appear willing to give up their new bicycles. Especially Isaak, who sat on his new bike and smiled while waiting for someone to come along and adjust the height of his seat.

“He can’t wait to get going,” his grandfather said.

Alyssa Whitmore, 7, of Auburn, right, checks out the new Specialized bicycle her sister, Abby Whitmore, 10, received Wednesday evening at the Dempsey Center in Lewiston. Ten local children received free Specialized bicycles and helmets for pledging to raise $1,000 each during the upcoming Dempsey Challenge on Sept. 29 and 30 in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Isaak Anokye, 7, of Hebron listens to speeches while sitting on the new Specialized bicycle he received Wednesday evening at the Dempsey Center in Lewiston. Ten local children received free Specialized bicycles and helmets for pledging to raise $1,000 each during the upcoming Dempsey Challenge on Sept. 29 and 30 in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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