U.S. paralympian handcyclist Matt Updike of Denver, Colorado, will take part in this year’s Dempsey Challenge presented by Amgen. The non-competitive run, walk and cycling event benefiting The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing will take place Oct. 13 and 14 in Lewiston, Maine. Updike will represent the U.S. in the London Paralympic Games beginning Aug. 29 where more than 4,000 athletes from 160 countries are expected to compete.
“I am honored to be invited to participate in such a great event,” said Updike. “Having to overcome a huge adversity in my own life when I was paralyzed, while certainly not the same, I feel I can relate to someone receiving the diagnosis of cancer. And having two close friends pass at an early age because of the disease recently, I want to support the fight against it in any way I can”
Updike was injured in an automobile accident in 1997 which left him paralyzed from the chest down. An avid skier and cyclist prior to the accident, Updike made his way back into his two passions and began professional handcycling in 2000.
Updike earned a bronze medal at the 2002 IPC Cycling World Championships in Germany and has been a regular on the US National team for the past decade. In 2005, Updike broke the 24-hour distance world record, handcycling over 287 miles through the Dutch countryside.
He competed in his first Paralympic Games in Beijing, China in 2008. In 2011 he took first place at the U.S. Paralympics Road Cycling National Championships, Augusta, Ga. and earned a silver medal at the Parapan American Games, Guadalajara, Mexico. He is sponsored by Hincapie Sportswear and currently works as a mortgage banker for Universal Lending Corp. in Denver. As a volunteer at Craig Hospital, Updike helps kids get started in Paralympic cycling.
The Dempsey Challenge offers the Electricity Maine 5K and 10K run/walk on October 13 and Fundraising Rides presented by Exergy Development Group of 10, 25, 50, 70 and 100 miles on October 14. All events will begin and end at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston. The weekend will include a family friendly Festival in the Park which plays host to the Concentra Health and Wellness Expo, TD Bank KidZone, vendor fair and live entertainment. The Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor Walk highlights the weekend.
Participants are encouraged to create or join teams through the Dempsey Challenge website to build camaraderie and assist their fundraising efforts. For more information, including participant, volunteer and fundraising information, log on to www.dempseychallenge.org.