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. Joe

    Why did it take the death of a sweet little girl to get people to finally start donating this money? Is that "all" it took to give donors that final boost to actually donate?? Or do donors just want to feel good about themselves knowing they are intangibly involved?

    July 29, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • dgm

      Joe- Rachel's death brought a need to light that many people would have never thought about. If that person who sacrificed to give $1 or if someone is able to give a $1000 in her honor because they are able to, it's OK if they feel good they did it. And the end result will be that thousands of kids will have clean drinking water. Why try to make it sound like a bad thing?

      August 1, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. In the Spirit of Christ

    Our politicians should follow this young ladies example. But we are too worried about money to be gained in gay marriage. Maybe she is better off in heaven where corruption can not get the best of her.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. john

    Thats great BUT .... I would like to see a receipt as to where the donations go . All to often 'charities' use the money for 'administrative' purposes and about 1/10th of it actually helps someone (I'm being generous) . Thanks anyway kid . Good job !!!

    July 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kimberly

    The tribute to Rachel's beautiful, short life has grown to nearly $700,000.
    Never doubt the abilities of a single person, either in life or death. Maybe this was her mission here on Earth. Over 30,000 people will benefit from clean water for the next 20 years! She had a goal of helping 15 people.
    Bless you Rachel, and peace to your family during this horrific time.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. KDL

    Everytime I read an article about a child like Rachel whose life was cut way too short it breaks my heart, especially when they are so selfless. What an angel she was here on earth, now she's one in heaven working side by side with God. Bless her kind heart. I think we all, children and adults alike, have a lot to learn from this little girl.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. dgm

    What is wrong with you people? If you drive a car, you have to spend money on gas. If you are building a fence, you have to pay for the wood and hardware. If you are going to eat, you have to pay for food. Do you think the people running these charities should work for free? Could you do that and survive? And if you get to the bottom line, people are being helped. Look at St Jude Hospital. They have to have millions of dollars and they have to have people to generate this money. We all care about different causes and there would be no one being helped if you didn't have people in charge to make it happen. God bless you, Rachel, for being one of the ones who cared enough to make it happen.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • dgm

      This was to all the people who are arguing about people getting paid salaries and the percentages that go to the different areas of the charities.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. LKCP

    "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). Amazing what one child following Christ can accomplish!

    August 2, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. paul

    the world should be more full of people like this. thank you God for giving her to us for a short period of time.

    August 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • yep yep

      Thank God????....................wow

      August 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Priscilla

      Amen.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TracyL.

      yes, thank God or the Goddess or even just the wonder of how giving humans can be. Does it matter who is thanked?

      August 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ashton

    Wonder how much of the $$ will actually be used for water purification and how much will be absorbed by the church and other agencies for "operating costs"? The pastor of the "church" that lies next to our neighborhood lives in a waterfront million dollar house.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sean

      Ashton, if you did any reading before making your assumptions you would know that; 1) None of this money goes to or thru the church. mycharity : water is its own non-profit; 2) 100% of all donations go straight to on-the-ground projects.

      I recognize that you probably have a bad opinion of religion, as evidenced by the tone of your remarks, but try to do a little reading before jumping to conclusions that cannot be supported by any evidence.

      August 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      ashton, you are ignorant

      August 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boman66

      Ashton...as the saying goes, "Better to close your mouth and appear stupid than to open it and removed all doubt". If you have a chip on your shoulders at least get your information straight so you can sound like you have a legit beef...you putz!

      August 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Likewise, I know a pastor of a "church" that also lives in a multi-million dollar riverfront home. All you dummies attacking Ashton need to realize that just because some non-profit puts pictures of ragged little starving children on the screen doesn't mean that's where your money is going. There are so many scam jobs and rip off artists posing as charitable organizations that you have to be sure you know where your money is going.

      August 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kenzo

      Ashton when is the last time you helped anyone out in need ? You should take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself. How can I make a difference in someones life like this little angel did.

      August 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • TracyL.

      Ashton, please learn how to read. I am sure that if you are illiterate, there us a program to help you. http://www.charitywater.org/

      August 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Da Meglet

      Dude, you are SUCH a buzzkill... You're so uncool, it's a wonder your butt doesn't fall off...

      August 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. julia randle

    A young black lady was kill on highway 90 up by Maryland.Two cars with thugs was raceing went across the media head on and crash into this young lady .She had just gotten a job in Washington. These thugs were teenagers.I wonder where their parents were? I know we don't here much about about minorities being helped in accidents or any thing else good , but god see it.God will not turn his back on his people.Satan has look at the heat in the southern states.I am truly thankful to god for the heat.Winter months will be worst.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • TracyL.

      Wow, and you need a literacy program too. Where do these people come from with computers that can't write?

      August 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Ramble much?

      August 22, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. WALKINGLASS

    I am putting water wells on 3 islands offshore from Tabaco City in the Philippines. If you are interested in helping the local people to get uncontaminated water for them, I need your help. These people's families are living on about $30.00 a month.

    I am paying $5,200.00 for each well. Contact sbowden@children.org and reference her to 'WATER WELL' fund, account 5188225. Any small or large amount is badly needed.

    August 7, 2011 at 3:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • daemon

      Water in the Philippines is close to the surface, the well can be dug for about $350 including cement rings, then PVC pipes several dollars each and manual pump around $70. So the actual total per well is around 10th of $5200, it is likely that 90% goes to non-profit for operating costs.

      In mountain areas there are no wells needed since water descends from the mountain, just some piping it is all.

      August 7, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Beatriz

      I too know that clean water can be brought to people if the water source is not too deep. We have provided water wells in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania since 1992 for $350.00 per well. Check out on the website Marion Medical Mission Shallow Well Project. It concerms me that you must spend over $5000.00 per well. Somewhere the $$ don't add up.

      August 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Please see my comment above. Thanks.

      August 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joie

    This whole story was so sad, but so much good is coming out of it. At last check, the money was nearing One Million Dollars...

    Her mom and little sister were in the car with her as well – Mom had a pretty nasty gash in her head, but the little sister was barely bruised. Rachel certainly had some very wonderful angel wings protecting her family.

    So much good coming out of something so tragic. If all of us could just have a touch of selflessness that this little girl had, our world would be a bit better I think.

    August 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. MagMuva

    $862,674

    August 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jerome

    This young girl thought of others who are in need and took action.

    August 14, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim B

    Why is that she had to die to reach her dream. People only started giving after this precious life was lost. People are tools. People are lemmings. People really need to wake up. We should have been donating to her cause before she passed on. The fact it takes a gigantic news outlet like CNN to cover yet another depressing story of a young person's death to spur on this charity boom makes me sick. I am thankful however for the donations and praise for this child's life but humans should be ashamed that it took a little girl's death to do the right thing.

    August 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ty

      Jim-

      It's the American way. We don't want to be involved when there isnt publicity. We want to be involved when we can turn on the TV or pull up CNN and tell our friends how we contributed!

      August 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • filip

      Truely Well said.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Because sometimes that's what it takes. If it were easy, they wouldn't be dreams.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
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