LEWISTON — Nearly 4,000 participants are taking part in a weekend of fundraising events in central Maine organized by the actor who plays Dr. McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The fifth annual Dempsey Challenge gets underway in Lewiston Saturday with walking and running events to raise money for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

More than 1,100 bicyclists have registered to take part in Sunday’s fundraising bicycle rides through central Maine, ranging from 10 to 100 miles.

Dempsey, who was born in Lewiston and grew up in nearby Turner and Buckfield, was inspired to launch the fundraiser under his name because of his 77-year-old mother’s battles with ovarian cancer over the years.

Last year’s event raised $1.2 million.

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