Patrick Dempsey happens to notice a photo of himself taken by Sun Journal photographer Andree Kehn as he walked down Lisbon St. in Lewiston in September 2016. Kehn took the photo hanging in the Lewiston Public Library window of Dempsey when he visited Edward Little High School in April 2016, and took the September photo of Dempsey. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Neither Hollywood nor racing will stop actor Patrick Dempsey from attending Saturday’s Dempsey Challenge.

The main fundraiser for the Dempsey Center has been a priority for the Lewiston-born, Buckfield native since he founded the center in 2008 to help people affected by cancer.

Inspired to create the center by his mother, Amanda, who battled the disease, Dempsey attended last year’s challenge virtually from Italy while in the middle of filming “Ferrari,” in which he plays racing team driver Piero Taruffi.

As a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, whose members are on strike, Dempsey in solidarity would not comment on current or upcoming projects. However, Katelynn Davis, Dempsey Center marketing and communications director, said his focus these days is all Dempsey Challenge.

“He’s been training for the past few months for the 25-mile cycling event,” Davis said. “He’s just happy to be back in Maine for a little bit, excited to be back at it.”

In the past year or so, Dempsey has been busy acting, supporting his Dempsey Racing team, which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, and engaging organizations with similar missions to the Dempsey Center, Davis said.


As far as his acting, Dempsey will be on the big screen Nov. 17 in “Thanksgiving.” It’s the latest slasher from horror master Eli Roth. Dempsey stars as a town sheriff cast amidst the mayhem of a serial killer who dons the traditional Pilgrim capotain hat and doublet while ripping through the streets and homes of modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Dempsey gets back to his racing passion as Piero Taruffi in the star-studded film “Ferrari,” which premieres Christmas Day.

Patrick Dempsey is seen in an image from “Ferrari,” a film in which he plays Piero Taruffi, a Ferrari racing team driver in the 1957 Mille Miglia, the most famous of the Italian road races. The film premieres Christmas Day. Screenshot from video via Sky UK/Associated Press

The Michael Mann-directed historical drama features Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz as Enzo and Laura Ferrari and centers around the 1957 last run of the Mille Miglia — the most famous of the Italian road races — and its significance at rebounding the Ferrari brand. Taruffi raced for the Scuderia Ferrari team, winning the 1,600 km course in 10 hours and 27 minutes and, along with two of the team’s other drivers, sweeping the top spots.

Away from the cameras, Davis said Dempsey briefly ducked out of Maine on Monday to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. He spoke on increasing access to care in rural areas, especially in Maine. Dempsey will return to the area Friday to speak at Leavitt Area High School in Turner and to make the pre-Challenge rounds, Davis said.

Other activities keeping him busy include an interview with Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in June for a talk titled “Finding Your Purpose.” He has also recently attended speaking engagements for SurvivorNet and WebMD.

Dempsey has been very active in the Lewiston-based Dempsey Center’s expansion of no-cost virtual offerings for cancer patients, survivors and their families, Davis said. The center provides support groups, various workshops, comfort care items and a wig and headwear program.

In Lewiston this weekend, Davis said Dempsey is especially looking forward to the Challenge’s Survivor Walk.

“It definitely means a lot to him,” she said. “I hope people can make it out to celebrate 15 years of the Dempsey Center. For Patrick, it’s about honoring his mom and her journey and everyone who’s been (affected by cancer).”

The challenge, staged at Simard-Payne Memorial Park at 46 Beech St. in Lewiston, will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday with opening remarks. Following events are the 65-mile ride at 7:30 a.m.; 50-mile ride, 7:45 a.m.; Dempsey Duathlon, the Challenge’s latest addition, 8:15 a.m.; 5K run and walk, 8:15 a.m. and 8:18 a.m., respectively; Wendy’s Way Family ride, 9:30 a.m.; kids fun run, 11 a.m. on Oxford Street; Survivor Walk, 1 p.m.; and fundraising awards at 1:15 p.m.

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