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WATCH LIVE 4PM: Lee Nelson hosts the 2020 Dempsey Challenge Closing Ceremonies

Actor and Mainer Patrick Dempsey's annual Dempsey Challenge was held virtually this year. More than 25,000 people joined from all 50 states and from around the world

MAINE, USA — Patrick Dempsey landed in Maine on Friday to lead the virtual bike race Saturday morning out of the Dempsey Center in Lewiston.

"We are reaching people from all around the world, we have people from all 50 states participating so our reach and our message is even greater," says Dempsey.

The Dempsey Center is a non-profit that has helped Trevor Maxwell throughout his stage 4 colon cancer process.

"I've been fighting stage 4 colon cancer for 2 and a half years, and because of the surgeries and everything I was going through with chemo I just haven't had the opportunity to participate yet," says Maxwell.

This year for the first time, Maxwell participated in the virtual Dempsey Challenge at the Dempsey Center along with Patrick Dempsey. Maxwell rode an hour to represent all those people going through cancer like him.

"I went through a lot of depression, anxiety, a lot of mental health struggles with cancer, and even though I am still fighting my cancer physically, my mental health has really improved," says Maxwell.

Maxwell started a company called 'Man up to cancer,' to provide support for men who might otherwise fight alone. Riding next to him was Lizzie Baker.

"I heard about the Dempsey CHallenge locally, signed up and within a couple of months my mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer so I just did everything I could and went for the biggest ride possible," says Baker.

"We have people out practicing social distancing and exercising as well, and that's part of the whole thing that we stand for its just, you know preventative medicine is also being physically fit and being active and it helps you psychologically," says Dempsey.

"Thousands of people around the world, it's so cool to make this an international event," says NEWS CENTER Maine anchor Lee Nelson.

Nelson added they might even keep the virtual race for years to come. 

"I think everybody who loves to do the ride in person, wants to do the ride in person again, but we would be crazy not to have a virtual component again, so many people around the world want to be part of it," says Nelson.

The first event to be live-streamed Patrick Dempsey bringing the Dempsey Challenge to Zwift. Two days of rides aimed at raising awareness and funds to support those managing the impact of cancer. You can help Help Patrick Dempsey raise funds for the Dempsey Center with this event. The goal? 25k riders to unlock a $25k donation. https://zwift.com/dempseychallenge

Dempsey Challenge 2020 is scheduled to take place on September 26 and 27 using "world-class" fitness platforms Strava and Swift.

In a video message to supporters on Monday, Dempsey shared the new plans for the 2020 Dempsey Challenge.

"We can't wait to see you participate virtually in this year's Dempsey Challenge in the run, the walk, and the ride. So no matter where you are in the world, you can join us," Dempsey said. 

Using the fitness apps, Dempsey Challenge participants will be able to log the miles they walk, run, or cycle while raising money to support the work of the Dempsey Center. Teams and individuals can “unlock” prizes and incentives based on the miles logged and the amount raised. The fundraising minimum has been waived for this year’s event in favor of a suggested voluntary donation of $20.

“We know that what makes the Dempsey Challenge so special is the feeling of community,” Deneka Deletetsky, the Dempsey Challenge event manager said. “We are excited to create that community through online engagement. It’s a way to keep everyone safe while raising money for the important work of the Dempsey Center.”

NEWS CENTER Maine is a proud sponsor of the weekend-long fundraising experience in Lewiston, organized to raise money to help those impacted by cancer. Every dollar goes directly to the Dempsey Center.

The nonprofit provides free quality of life care to anyone impacted by cancer. Founded in Lewiston by actor Patrick Dempsey, it delivers a personalized, holistic and integrated approach to cancer prevention, education, and support.

Amid the pandemic, the Dempsey Center has launched most of its services virtually. Counseling appointments, support groups, and nutrition and fitness classes are being provided to cancer patients and their families.

“Providing virtual services has always been part of our strategic plan,” Wendy Tardif, Dempsey Center Executive Director said. “COVID-19 has forced us to speed up the timeline on that plan – and that’s a really good thing!” Noting that the organization plans to continue providing virtual services even after reopening to in-person visits, Tardif added, “The online sphere has truly become a third Dempsey Center location.”

While event organizers haven’t ruled out the possibility of in-person activities the weekend of the Dempsey Challenge, they are keeping a close watch on public health guidelines. Any local activities will follow appropriate health safety guidelines in effect at the time of the event.

In the meantime, Dempsey encourages people to get involved in the “reimagined” event.

Dempsey founded the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Healing and Hope in 2008, inspired by his mother Amanda, who was treated at Central Maine Medical Center for cancer several times. Amanda passed away in 2014 at age 79.

For more information about Dempsey Challenge 2020, visit DempseyChallenge.org.