I’ve been wanting to do a 5K for quite some time but because of Post Traumatic Stress never found the courage to follow through until my friends Valari and Xandy inspired me. Over the years, I watched them collect money for the Dempsey Challenge 5K, talk about how the experience inspires them, and get their picture taken with none other then the actor, Patrick Dempsey. Patrick Dempsey is the founder of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing in Maine. I chose the Dempsey Challenge as my first 5K because my father had terminal bone cancer. I walked in memory of my dad, Billy Stowell, who passed September 14, 2001.
We got to the event around 6:30 am because Valari and Xandy learned that Patrick Dempsey was going to be speaking prior to the event. We met up with their friend Ali and we all got to meet Patrick and get our pictures taken with him prior to the walk. Patrick Dempsey lost his mom to cancer not long ago after she battled with it for years. We got a special surprise when we observed that Joan Lunden of Good Morning America was at the Dempsey Challenge to support the efforts. She will be airing a special Pink Power segment Wednesday on the Today Show. She too took the time to take pictures with us. Joan Lunden is a breast cancer survivor and has been very open with the public about her journey. She is an inspiring, beautiful lady.
I have felt sadness and pain for so many years over the loss of my dad. He was such an amazing man and a great father to me. While I was at the Dempsey Challenge 5K event, I felt so good doing something in his name because I will never forget him and I don’t want anyone else to forget him either. His battle with cancer was painful both emotionally and physically. I moved in with him to help him in his final days and it was the best thing I ever could have done, although it was difficult. But, we found strength in each other and the experience overall was a beautiful one because my dad helped me as much as I helped him.
The Dempsey Center was created about seven years ago. And I couldn’t help but think that I wish they were around when my father and I were going through his time with cancer. It makes me so happy that they are now here for other cancer survivors and their families. The Dempsey Center provides FREE support services to all those affected by cancer. The Dempsey Challenge 5K raised over 1 million dollars for the Dempsey Center. We had a great time walking the 5K and meeting some very special people who understand the pain of going through cancer and/or losing someone they love to cancer. We were there not only to raise money for the organization but to spread a message of hope. It was healing.