LEWISTON, Maine — Thousands of bicyclists are raising funds by taking to central Maine roads for the Dempsey Challenge put on by “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey.
Bicyclists on Sunday were riding various routes between 10 and 100 miles as part of the weekend events to raise funds for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
In all, more than 4,000 people from 38 states registered for the bicycling, walking and running events held Saturday and Sunday. They raised more than $1.1 million.
Dempsey, who started the event last year, was born in Lewiston and grew up in nearby Turner and Buckfield.
From the start to the finish of the 50-mile course, Dempsey stopped to greet, hug and talk to the spectators who lined much of the route. He rode alongside strangers to ask them how far they were riding.
At the Elm Street School rest stop in Poland, he singled out four women dressed as the Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion characters from “The Wizard of Oz” to pay tribute to their spirited welcome.
“Thanks for your support. You guys look great,” Dempsey boomed as they snapped photos.
Then he reassured them their photos would turn out.
“There are about 15 cameras pointing at us. I think you’ll be fine,” Dempsey cracked.