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Funeral Service Held For IndyCar’s Dan Wheldon In Fla.

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Dan Wheldon, driver of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda, celebrates his winning of the 89th Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2005 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Dan Wheldon, driver of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda, celebrates his winning of the 89th Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2005 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami)- Funeral service for IZOD IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon was held Saturday at a church in St. Petersburg.

The public ceremony began at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg.

A massive 15 car pile-up during last Sunday’s Las Vegas Indy 300 has claimed Wheldon’s life.

Wheldon’s wife, Susie, released the following statement on behalf of the family, inviting members of community to attend the service:

“Although the last few days have been unbearable for our family, the overwhelming love and support we have received are rays of sunshine during these dark days. The outpouring of sympathy and condolences has been so comforting, and I want to thank everyone for their kind notes, letters, gifts and flowers.”

Susie Whelson extended an invitation to those in the community.

“Dan touched the lives of many people, and I would like to invite those citizens in our community who knew and loved my husband to attend his funeral service at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg on Saturday, October 22, at 10 a.m.

“Though we won’t be able to fit everyone inside, I know that Dan would have wanted the community to share in the celebration of his life and to grieve his passing. Thank you again. I am forever grateful for your kindness.”

The 33-year old Wheldon, who lives in St. Petersburg, won the Indianapolis 500 twice, including this year. Wheldon was critically injured when his car flew over another during the wreck on Lap 13.

He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Drivers were told of Wheldon’s death in a meeting about two hours after the fiery, smoky crash that many drivers said was the worst they had ever seen.

In his honor, drivers took part in a five-lap salute around the oval. Read more by clicking here.

The Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund has been established for the financial security of Wheldon’s family. The public can make contributions to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund at the following address:

Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Suite 1000
Indianapolis, IN 46204

All of Fifth Third Bank’s Indianapolis branches also are accepting contributions in person, which will be routed to the account.

In lieu of flowers, friends and fans also can choose to make a donation to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund or the Alzheimer’s Association, a cause close to his heart.

For more details, visit http://www.alz.org or http://www.danwheldonmemorial.com, a memorial site, which includes a Facebook link to leave condolences and remembrances and a career photo retrospective.

Those wishing to send their sympathy and condolences to the Wheldon family, can address letters to:

The Wheldons
9600 Koger Blvd N, Ste. 105
St Petersburg, FL 33702

INDYCAR will hold a public memorial service to celebrate the life of Wheldon at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Doors open to the public at 2:30 p.m. The Virginia Street parking garage will be open free of charge to augment on-street parking.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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