BREWER, Maine — Survivors, families, researchers, nurses and others affected by cancer came together Saturday to raise money that they hope will save more lives.

“We’re here for the patients for whom treatment has failed, as well as to celebrate with those it’s helped,” said Allen L’Italien, executive director of Eastern Maine Medical Center Cancer Care.

More than 2,600 people registered to take part in the event, with more signing up Saturday morning. They walked, ran, biked and joined motorcycle motorcades to raise an estimated $592,000 toward local cancer research efforts. That’s still short of this year’s goal of $650,000.

This was the seventh year of the EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge, and it has grown significantly since its start, according to Jennifer Lloyd, philanthropy officer with the EMMC Foundation.

Lloyd is a breast cancer survivor herself.

“Eleven years later, I’m still here,” Lloyd said. “And I want that same opportunity for every patient.”

Lloyd said this event raises money for research at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer to explore treatments and potential cures for all types of cancers that affect all ages of patients.

L’Italien said the community’s support has helped Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems expand research at the center, which now has 12 oncologists researching various types of cancer. When the center opened in 2009, there were just five. The support also has allowed the center to offer more types of treatment and give more patients access to early clinical trials.

For more information on the Champion for the Cure Challenge or to donate, visit

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.