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DATE News (chronologically)
11/03/11
irl
Auction to aid Wheldon family going strong
It started with a small gesture by Graham Rahal, who wanted to raise money for Dan Wheldon's family by auctioning off his helmet from the IndyCar season finale.

He announced his intentions on Twitter and the response from the motor sports community was immediate and overwhelming. It didn't take Rahal long to realize he alone couldn't handle the outpouring of support for Wheldon, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner killed in the Oct. 16 race at Las Vegas.

More than $200,000 had been raised by Wednesday, the ninth day of the auction, with many big-ticket items yet to be posted. All proceeds go to a trust fund established by IndyCar for Wheldon's wife and two young sons.

"I thought we would have a lot of support and a pretty good turnout of people saying 'We'll give this' or 'We'll give that,' but for it to get as large as it has -- nobody ever expected this," Rahal said. "It's been pretty cool. I think it shows how tight knit the sports community is overall. It isn't just racing."

Rahal didn't have any idea what would follow when he decided to auction off his helmet, which had a special design to celebrate the Las Vegas finale. Pledges of memorabilia from other IndyCar drivers came within minutes of him posting his plan on Twitter, and within a day, it had transcended far beyond their small community.

"It really went crazy, and I think right away we realized this was getting to a size that was more than my girlfriend and I could run out of the house," said Rahal, a driver for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing.

NASCAR drivers began donating items within a day, and before the week was over, Rahal had a pledge for a Tour de France jersey from Lance Armstrong, a surfboard from Kelly Slater and interest from celebrities and athletes around the world.

It became a fast lesson on what can be accomplished through social media. IndyCar

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