Dan Wheldon Tribute
Former Panther Racing IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, who worked with the Foundation and served as a spokesperson for the ChalleNGe Program, passed away in an accident that occurred during the final IndyCar race in Las Vegas, N.V.
As a spokesperson, Dan was committed to helping the Foundation raise awareness of the dropout crisis and how the ChalleNGe Program is combating this issue. He recorded several public service announcements, visited with many ChalleNGe Programs and invited cadets out to IndyCar races across the country. Even when he was no longer driving the National Guard car, he remained a dear friend to the Foundation and still made an effort to visit with ChalleNGe cadets.
Over the past few years, Dan developed a strong relationship with one of our cadets, Wesley Jones, who graduated from the Ft. Gordon program in Georgia. At the request of Dan's wife, Wesley carried Dan's helmet during the funeral procession in St. Petersburg, FL. Jim Tinkham and Gail Dady from the Foundation accompanied Wesley to Florida and to a memorial service in Indianapolis to pay respects to Dan and his family. Also attending the memorial service and representing the Foundation were board members Al Speyer, John Barnes and Jim Thompson.
Dan was more than just a spokesperson for the ChalleNGe Program; he was a member of the ChalleNGe family. Dan spent countless hours meeting with and getting to know ChalleNGe cadets across the country. We are forever grateful for the effort he devoted to championing our cause and for the many cadets he inspired. Dan was a genuine guy with a big smile and equally big heart. He will be sorely missed.