Fran Stanhope, right, and her husband, Bob Stanhope, left, mug for a photograph with Patrick Dempsey following the award ceremony in 2021. Fran Stanhope was the top fundraiser for the Dempsey Challenge last year. Dempsey will not be able to personally appear at the Challenge this year in Lewiston. Contributed photo

LEWISTON — Dempsey Center founder Patrick Dempsey will not attend this year’s event in 10 days due to a scheduling conflict and will instead participate virtually from Italy, according to Dempsey Center officials.

In a statement released by center leaders, the actor and race car driver said he is “heartbroken” that he won’t be able to attend the annual fundraising event Sept. 24 and 25 in Lewiston, but that he expected to virtually join it.

“I’m excited to take on the Dempsey Challenge as a global participant this year (virtually). I’m of course heartbroken to not be able to be back home in Maine, but I’ll be with everyone virtually as we celebrate, honor and rally together to help make life better for people impacted by cancer. Thank you to the countless people who are pouring their time and hearts into this year’s event. I know it is going to be a banner year as we raise funds to provide connection, care and community for cancer patients, their loved ones and care partners — all at no cost,” Dempsey said in the statement.

Dempsey Center officials had hoped Dempsey, raised in Buckfield, would be able to personally attend the event he created 14 years ago, but he is in Italy, where the movie “Ferrari” is being shot. The film, about the life of automobile manufacturer, designer and race car driver Enzo Ferrari, also stars Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz and is directed by Michael Mann.

Katelynn Davis, Dempsey Center marketing and communications manager, said that despite his filming schedule, Dempsey “will likely be cycling for his event (for the Challenge) — just like he does here in Lewiston! We will have some video check-ins from him that we will share periodically throughout the weekend both via social media and in the park.”

The Dempsey Challenge involves walking, running and cycling events over two days, as well as events honoring those affected by cancer, informational offerings, entertainment, food and more, centered at Simard-Payne Memorial Park on Beech Street in Lewiston.

The center could not yet offer details about when the virtual check-ins with Dempsey will take place, if he will be recruiting his fellow stars to take part with him, or where viewers can watch on social media. Davis did refer to a video the center shared on social media last week that Patrick shot expressing his regret for not being able to attend the Challenge in person.

Thousands of people are involved in the live Dempsey Challenge event, while many others participate from around the country and the world as “global participants,” tuning in virtually from their location and participating in the fundraising effort by completing their chosen activity. For more on the Challenge, including the full schedule of events, go to

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