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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » MAINE » Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey

A New England Tradition of Giving Back

By Peter F. Demers | December 27, 2011

Popular actor and international sex symbol, Patrick Dempsey, McDreamy to many of his fans, takes on a real life role in his home community.

Patrick Dempsey is of course best known for his portrayal of neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit ABC series Grey’s Anatomy, a role that earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2007 and People’s Choice Awards as Favorite Male TV Star in 2007 and 2008.

It takes a fierce amount of determination and talent to become an internationally famous movie and television star coming from small Maine farming communities like Turner, Maine (population 4,972) and Buckfield, Maine (population 1,723).   It takes an even stronger sense of character not to forget your roots and give back to the places and people who helped form the person you have become.

The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing

Dempsey, a Maine native, exemplifies the strong sense of New England community.   Dempsey has remained a part of his boyhood home by not only maintaining a part-time residence but actively sharing his wealth and success to help the people who have been, and still are, his friends and neighbors.

When his mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997 and suffered two subsequent relapses, Dempsey learned that the facilities available to treat cancer patients in the Lewiston, Maine region were woefully inadequate.

Working with the Central Maine Medical Center, he helped to create the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing through a seed donation which allowed for the renovation of an existing facility and the development of a range of services designed to provide the highest quality of education, support and wellness in order to enhance the quality of life of individuals, families and communities touched by cancer. The services are available to both children and adults.

“I learned a lot during my mother’s illness” states Dempsey. “I found out how important it is to have access to good, reliable resources to help the patient, family members and caretakers. After this experience, I knew that I wanted to make a difference, to give back to the community that helped my mom through her cancer journey.”

Patrick Dempsey

Last year, the Patrick Dempsey Center helped more than 75,000 people. But his commitment to his community didn’t end with the creation of the Dempsey Center. In 2009, to raise money to support the work of the Center, he created the Dempsey Challenge, an annual event which consists of walks, runs, and a 100-mile bicycle race.

A fitness enthusiast, he is an active participant in the event which in 2011, attracted 3,834 runners, walkers and cyclists from thirty-four states, plus Canada, Dubai, Germany and Switzerland; and raised over one million dollars.

Mother of five and twenty-two year cancer survivor Laura Davis was presented with the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor Award, which is presented to a survivor from the region who, among other qualities, demonstrates a passion for helping others.

“The true blessing for me was to share the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer award with the thousands of people whose lives have been touched by cancer and who came out to the Dempsey Challenge,” said Davis. “Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer really advocates that every cancer patient is a survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of their lives, no matter how long that may be. It is this concept that allows us, as cancer survivors, to provide inspiration and hope to each other.”

Dempsey has stated that the one thing he doesn’t want to lose from the event is its unique spirit. He understands the different proficiency levels of local participants and that professional riders come and go.   Dempsey should be proud that in addition to the financial support the event raises for the Dempsey Center, it promotes a communal feeling and creates enduring friendships.

The Fourth Annual Dempsey Challenge is scheduled for October 13 and 14, 2012.

To learn more about the Dempsey Center and the Dempsey Challenge, please go to www.DempseyCenter.org or www.DempseyChallenge.org.

All photographs remain the copyright of their respective owners and ONE kindly thanks them for allowing their use.

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