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Posted October 9, 2019

Patrick Dempsey at Dempsey Challenge


Recently, more than 60 WEXers participated in the Dempsey Challenge, the annual run-walk-cycle experience that raises funds for the Dempsey Center. This feat of fundraising and athleticism was precipitated only a few months earlier by a meeting between WEX CEO Melissa Smith and actor Patrick Dempsey, who paid an impromptu visit to our headquarters in Portland, Maine. 

In July, the Maine native surprised us by walking in and requesting a tour of our new headquarters. He was then kind enough to return the following week to host a lunch-and-learn-session with our interns and NexGen group (early-career employees). That’s when he told us more about his nonprofit.

Patrick founded the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in 2008 in Lewiston, Maine. He was inspired by his mother Amanda, who was treated at Central Maine Medical Center for cancer several times. Amanda passed away in 2014 at age 79.

Dempsey challenge

A WEXer (L) nears the finish line of the Dempsey Challenge run/walk.

Today, the Center delivers a personalized, holistic and integrated approach to cancer prevention, education, and support. All of its services are provided at no cost to anyone impacted by cancer, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances or where they receive their medical treatment. 

“Getting the chance to meet Patrick and see how connected and dedicated he is to the mission of the Dempsey Center was inspiring,” says Melissa Dudley, WEX’s corporate philanthropy manager. “He really is a wonderful human being. It made us want to go 150 percent to help this organization.”

So, WEX committed to putting together a team for the Challenge. With a fairly quick turnaround time for fundraising, we gave the Dempsey Center a one-time corporate gift and assembled a group of participants from our Maine offices, covering the registration fees for all and leveraging our matching gift program to match dollars raised when applicable. Together, WEXers raised more than $12,000 for the Center. 

Dempsey Challenge

Two WEXers pose after completing the Challenge.

Says Dudley, “The Dempsey Center is a natural fit for some of the support that WEX is already putting out there for cancer care, treatment and research. We do a lot of work with the Maine Cancer Foundation and the support that Dempsey Center complements that, as it offers more holistic help to those impacted by cancer. In this way, WEXers are able to offer financial support for cancer programs that run the gamut from mind to body.”

Want to learn about other ways WEX prioritizes giving back? Read about our Month of Caring, our work with nonprofits that help children, our United Way partnership and how we’re giving back to Maine’s youngest residents.


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