Maine is well known to tourists for its beautiful fall foliage, however, celebrity Patrick Dempsey, a native of the Lewiston area, attracts a crowd of his own for an amazing autumn event. For the past 8 years, he has hosted the annual 5K/10K trek and cycling event called the Dempsey Challenge, which was created to support the Dempsey Center, named after the actor. The Dempsey Challenge is known for its efforts to raise awareness of the center and a way to collect funds to support its mission. The Dempsey Center is a place where anyone diagnosed with cancer and their family can receive support services absolutely free.
While Kaplan University, Maine campuses support many community events, this one is particularly special because of the University’s ties to the Lewiston/Auburn area. This year it was more important than ever for the Maine campuses to be involved, having lost two colleagues to cancer. This year’s team was comprised of 18 participants, including 14 staff members representing Kaplan University Maine campuses, and together they raised over $3,700 to support cancer patients.
Mimi Gough, a full-time faculty member and team captain, encouraged staff and their family members to join the team, most of whom participated in the 5K walk/run. Her weekly emails motivated colleagues to meet their individual fundraising goal of $150.00 and many not only met their goal, but greatly exceeded it.
“Everyone on the team has been personally impacted by cancer and this was our way of honoring the strength and courage demonstrated by our family, friends and colleagues who have faced a cancer diagnosis. In fact, our team t-shirt design this year was titled Kaplan Strong, and listed all the first names of survivors as well as those we personally lost to this disease.” Mimi said.
“We were proud to be among the 3, 792 participants at this year’s event and to be able to contribute toward the $1.2 million raised to support the center” Mimi remarked.
Participants Offer Their Reflections
This year’s Dempsey Challenge team included staff members from a number of different departments throughout Kaplan University, Maine. Four of them offered their reflections:
Tony Tenneson, Associate Academic Dean, South Portland
“It was my first time participating in the Dempsey Challenge. What a rewarding experience! It was a very emotional time for me as well. My wife is a cancer survivor. A number of my relatives, friends, and colleagues have fallen to this terrible disease. I was filled with pride when I crossed the finish line and they announced 'Kaplan University.' Proud that our University contributes to so many worthy causes."
Christina Turner, Student Advisor, Augusta
“Vivien and I had an amazing time walking. This was my second Dempsey, my first was in 2010. I held back tears as we walked past the signs dedicated to those that had lost the battle and those that were still fighting. Cancer is such a monster with no rhyme or reason to how it attacks and who it attacks. Walking 3 miles is the least that I can do to help support survivors, fighters, and families. I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Chelsea Tibbetts, Campus Operations Administrator - South Portland Campus
“I told my family that I would run for my grandparents and uncle who had lost their lives to cancer. It really hit home to run past signs that displayed personal stories of triumph and grief, to see hundreds of families and teammates gathering together in support of a better tomorrow. I'm thankful for this opportunity to run for my family, run for my Kaplan family, and to be a make a positive impact on the fight against cancer.”
Tabitha Crowell, Admissions Coordinator, Lewiston Campus
“This was my first year as well, and the lack of training and preparing for this seems so minimal to what all of our friends, family and colleagues have gone through. A few days sore is A-O-K with me :) Cannot wait till next year to walk again with everyone!”