July 24th, 2011
11:05 PM ET

After girl's death, selfless act lives on

[Updated July 25, 4:25 p.m.] For her 9th birthday last month, Rachel Beckwith told people that instead of giving her presents, they should donate to a charity providing clean water to families in developing nations.

The Seattle-area girl came up with $220, short of her $300 goal.  She figured she’d try to raise more money next year.

Then came the crash.

Rachel died Saturday, taken off life support at a Seattle hospital three days after she and six other people were injured in a 14-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 near her home in Bellevue, Washington, CNN affiliate KOMO reported.

But before her death, as word of Wednesday’s crash spread, so did news about Rachel’s fundraising wish. Her church took to Facebook, Twitter and its own website to promote her cause.

As of Monday afternoon, Rachel’s online fundraising page for the nonprofit group "charity: water" had landed more than $130,000 in donations, from more than 2,400 donors.

"Rest in peace knowing that your wish is helping people in ways that you could have never imagined," one contributor wrote on the campaign site.

Ryan Meeks, one of Rachel's pastors, said that "life is coming out of this death, with Rachel's generosity."

"It's inspired many, and it’s been amazing over the last 24 hours," Meeks told CNN's Don Lemon on "CNN Newsroom" Saturday night.

Rachel chose to help the nonprofit group after its founder spoke at her church, Eastlake Community Church in Bothell, Meeks said. On her fundraising page, Rachel explained her goal.

"On June 12th 2011, I'm turning 9. I found out that millions of people don't live to see their 5th birthday. And why? Because they didn't have access to clean, safe water so I'm celebrating my birthday like never before," her fundraising page says. "I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday."

"She cares about other people more than herself," her aunt, Veronica Del Rosario, told KOMO for a story that aired Saturday. "She wanted everyone to give money so that children and parents could have water."

The charity says all of its public donations directly fund water projects. Its 2009 annual report said that in a three-year period, it provided 2,321 clean-water projects, helping more than 1 million people in 16 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.

The church was scheduled to hold a service for Rachel on Sunday night.

"For a 9-year-old kid, a huge step of faith would be to say, 'Hey, for my birthday, I don't want anything. Give to those who are in greater need,'" Meeks said. "And not everyone’s that mature at 90, and yet here she is modeling for us at the age of 9, how to live that kind of life."

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Filed under: Charity • Washington state
soundoff (489 Responses)
  1. justathought

    To be this selfless, you have toknow that she has had good parenting. Not only was her death a great loss to her parents, but she was a great loss to the world. But, they still have something to be grateful for.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • AGrey

      No. She was a huge benefit to the world and her spirit will live on with the spirits of all the lives she saved.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Len

      Agreed

      July 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. justathought

    To be this selfless, you have to know that she has had exlent parenting. Not only was her death a great loss to her parents, but she was a great loss to the world. But, they still have something to be grateful for. Graditude needs to be given to the parents for a job well done.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Renelda Moorehead

    This child will, I believe, REST IN PEACE. And this extraordinary event reminds me of the Biblical wisdom: "...and a
    little child shall lead them..."

    July 25, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Seattle Citizen

    Truer words were never written, Rachel knew love and respect all of her life. She was a fun kid that had an easy way about her. She was the apple of her father's eye... I wish I could post a photo I have of them from the fourth of July... pure love. Rachel's little brother was recently seen for seizure activity that needs further testing. Original test looks a bit scary. Please keep this little family in your thoughts and prayers. Rachel had 4 siblings, four and under, this family is going to need all the love we can give. Thanks to all that care.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. shuggo

    This happened locally (for me) but I'm glad it is making national news. This is terribly sad, but hopefully will inspire people. When I was nine I would have wanted presents. I'm glad I've changed.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. jcak

    Five kids in one family?! This is God's way of telling them they're overpopulating.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
    • pauline

      Yes, and you repaid the comment with your own unpleasant assumptions.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
    • dgm

      Pauline- Who is your comment directed to?

      August 1, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      UNICEF and the Salvation Army are terror organizations

      July 25, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Rhonda

      Rachel, you are a class act. See you later.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • DM

      AMEN! (to Rhonda)

      July 25, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • WALKINGLASS

      Cass, I agree with your statement except the part where you call someone jerky. Give them a chance to see what you see.

      I'm with you in the rest of your comment.

      I'm very outspoken like you are but I learned to control myself. Keep up your good works but SCRATCH 'JERKY'.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • WALKINGLASS

      Cass, I sent you a reply below but it popped up as a comment. What's going on.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Len

      Actually, a large part of the population does donate....

      July 25, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Cass, when you post, it helps to name the person you are sending your comment to, so we know about whom you are referring. Otherwise your post just stands by itself and is incomprehensible.

      Respectfully,

      sanjosemike

      July 25, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Stewie

      Fighting hatred with personal attacks is not a good strategy and makes you look as bad as the hater.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. terry

    Jack or jcak or whatever, yes that is way too many kids, but this isn't the right forum for that.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Seattle Citizen

    A four year old and then 3 year old twins- her dad and his wife

    Her mother remarried and she had a two year old sister.

    Even if they were all the same mother. NONE are expendable.

    What an ignorant comment, no doubt left to get some attention. Sad life, trolling the boards. Rachel's siblings are sure to turn out better than the child your mother raised. Peace be with you.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Kazi

      IIgnore it. I am praying for the family. Let us continue the good work she started. Let us live righteous, and we won't have to worry about population. God will take care of us. We shall be with her soon, and the others who have left us also.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Beatrice

    God bless her! We should do this for Christmas presents as well. Many Christians do.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cass

    There definitely needs to be more people in the world like this little girl. However, this is a growing trend, which we should all be happy about! My cousin did this last year for the local dog shelter that was running severely low on food and supplies for the pets. He had his friends and family give dog food and treats instead of gifts for himself! So maybe the next generation is heading towards a better future. At least they are, unlike many jerks on these forums.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • WALKINGLASS

      There is 42,000 children dying EVERY DAY of starvation and contaminated water. Don't you think it would be better to feed them instead of dogs?

      Do you think God is going to judge dogs or humans? Your chose, HUMANS or DOMESTIC ANIMALS?

      Ya, I know, I'm a jerk.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. JS

    I hope someone makes a movie about THIS amazing little girl! This is some story

    July 25, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Spock

    As some say: The good are the first to go... Wherever that may be, she deserves the best.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Gerhard

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if CNN and the other new organizations who are USING this story to make money (advertising revenue) would donate at least a portion of that to the causes they use to promote THEMSELVES. I know some folks think I am just another jerk because I generally don't give money. Instead I give my time and personal effort to folks close to home. Things like helping elderly shutins when extreme weather freezes their pipes or litters their driveway with debris. Or taking the time to talk to an unruly child in a store or some other public venue. And yes I do give money when that is ALL I can do but ... in most cases, like the last time I gave to the Red Cross after Katrina – much of that ends up in the pockets of people who make much more than I do. As far as I am concerned ANY charity (churches included) who pay any person more than $25K per year – and I haven't researched the one in this case YET! – need to be shut down. Charity begins at home and for most of these so called Do Gooders that would be the CEO taking a big pay cut.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. rex edie

    she was truly a beacon of hope..... these things make us all cry.... and sadly as humans .... we will forget this story somewhere in the next 48 hrs. until some other similar event catches our eye.... hail to all those who actually do get out and assist.... motivating ones self over the get out and do it hump is the hardest part....once your in the flow its easier to get going....
    as for the world water situation ....watch out.... there is a whole group of predators preparing to start owning public water rights.... that which should be provided free to all people of all nations is fast becoming the next greed manipulated commodity....

    July 25, 2011 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. cindy sedaker

    <3

    July 25, 2011 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
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