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LEWISTON, Maine

(NEWS CENTER) -- Patrick Dempsey used his fame to create the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope and Healing. Now he uses his energy to help fund that agency. This will be the fifth year that the Patrick Dempsey Challenge has been a major fundraiser for the center and supporters are hoping to make this the biggest year ever.



Last year, 4200 people turned out to walk, run or cycle raising more than a million dollars in the process. This year 2700 have already signed up and $400,000 has been raised.



"We're getting to crunch time," said Mark Turcotte of the Dempsey Center. "We're getting really busy as people come forward to help." Turcotte says he expects this to be another record year.



This year, a "Courage-fest" is being added to the weekend event. It will begin Friday afternoon, and feature music and entertainment including headliner Amy Allen of NBC's The Voice. There will also be a free Family Festival in the park all weekend featuring entertainment, vendors and a food truck festival.



The event is the major fundraiser for the Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope and Healing. This facility aids any person who has been impacted by cancer through education, guidance and services.



Television star Patrick Dempsey and his sister Mary, who are Maine natives, needed those services when their mother Amanda was diagnosed with cancer in 1997.



"You don't know what direction to go in," said Mary. "You want to be able to navigate to the right path and have the right resources and be guided to the right people that can give you the best possible care."



Patrick Dempsey, a star of Gray's Anatomy is Maine's biggest television star and his appearances always attract a crowd, in part because he has remained a "down home" type of guy. "He's a pretty normal guy," said Michelle Small of the center. "He's very sweet and congenial and wants to hear everything from everybody, very interested, makes you fell like you're the only person in the room."

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