Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston

This past weekend, thousands of people came together to participate in the annual Dempsey Challenge, a fitness fundraiser for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing. During the event, held in Lewiston, Maine, participants displayed hope and encouragement in the fight against cancer through running, walking and cycling various distances. Those who took part in the challenge supported the Dempsey Center not only by displaying passion for an important cause, but also through meeting the minimum donation requirement of $150 in order to participate.

Patrick Dempsey crosses the finish line during one of the many events held during this year's Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston, Maine.

Patrick Dempsey crosses the finish line during one of the many events held during this year’s Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston, Maine.

Created in 2008 by Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey and his two sisters, the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing provides free services for anyone affected by cancer. Dempsey was born in Lewiston and grew up in Buckfield, Maine. The Dempsey Challenge has consistently been the organization’s largest fundraiser, with the entirety of the funds collected going directly to the Dempsey Center. Last year’s event raised over $1 million for the organization. It is because of public generosity that the Dempsey Center is able to offer support, education and integrative medicine services at no cost to anyone in need.

With this year’s Challenge being the Dempsey family’s first run since their mother, Amanda, passed away from ovarian cancer in March, the event held a different significance for the family and participants in the event. The College showed support through the Men and Women’s Lacrosse teams participation in the 5K run. Caitlin Heaps ’17, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, reflected on the event, saying, “Initially it was really annoying that we had to leave school at 6 a.m., but once you got there, you could just feel the overwhelming sense of inspiration,” Heaps said. “You soon realized that what you were doing was so incredibly significant, and that you were benefiting so many people.”

With thousands of cyclists, runners, walkers and sideline motivators, this year’s Dempsey Challenge was a major success.

According to the Dempsey Challenge website, the atmosphere at the event was very positive: “This weekend of hope and camaraderie integrates the passion and support of the cancer community with the hospitality of the Lewiston/Auburn community, while providing a rewarding experience and unprecedented value to all participants and partners.”
Heaps said that the College had one of the largest teams at the event. “It was really special to represent Colby in that way and reach out to the community for such an amazing cause,” she said.

Towards the end of the run, Heaps said there was an area for participants and supporters of the event to share posters of loved ones who have had cancer. “It was so inspirational and was just such a reminder as to why we were doing it all,” Heaps said. “It just made us want to power through it even more, just as those on the posters did.”

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