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. DaveNYUSA

    Heart breaking, heart warming.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      If only more of us would be like her, most of our misery in this world would end.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank's Mom

      If only less of us were like Frank, things would be great.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. JennieInCanada

    A truly inspirational, generous soul.. Rest in peace, sweet Rachel.. Let's hope even one person learns from your lesson..

    July 25, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      And I hope the church does not skim any of that money for "costs" associated with the group. $70,000 is A LOT of money.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris Articolo

      Paise god for such a little girl as this. If everyone could live like her we would be in good shape.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Ralph – I would be surprised if the church doesn't ADD money to the collection.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    very sad

    July 25, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • inadaze2

      Rest in Peace little angel so sorry for your loss

      July 25, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lindsey

    Even if part if the money goes to the CEO, the remaining portion still went to the cause. Everyone has a complaint, but rarely does anyone want to get up and do something.

    God bless this family through their loss. Her selfLESSness shines like a floodlight in this world's selfishness and greed. Praise God for his mercy and constant reminder of his presence.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      There is no god. Stop praising him and praise this little girl. She is the one who wanted to do this.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Blosm2431

      Good story. And Ralph, I'm adding you to my prayer list.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • humanbean

      Yeah, I agree. Praise this great little girl with a huge heart, and leave God out of it. I find it ridiculous that a perfect omnipotent being would need something like human worship and praise. Does God have self esteem issues or something?

      RIP Rachel

      July 25, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. In America

    Beauty of the heart and clarity of the soul are such amazing things to see. It makes ME understand that I have much more than I need in the face of those who have so little. And so passes and Angel from our midst we could not afford to lose, God help us recognize the next Angel so we may learn from them before they are taken home.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. sinn mctavish

    rachel you are on the right track......now only if we could get folks to realize that all we have on the planet is just (2%) fresh water left on the planet..........and for most third world countries big multinational corporations own the water rights , as a matter of fact this applies to America.......maybe for your tenth birthday more folks will celebrate ( Rachels Day ) as the new cause......water all over is a rarity.....oil , money , war and those other crisis......pale in comparison to no water......

    July 25, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Marti

      Your facts couldn't be more wrong. I work in the water industry. Amazes me how people can put their own spin on things when they don't have a clue what they're talking about. Nice try, idiot.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      You have watched WATERWORLD one too many times. Check your sources with SCIENCE.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • stop2think

      Can you for one minute leave your half baked lefty social commentary at the door?

      July 25, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joe Regular

    Goodbye, sweet child. Truly our world is a lesser place without you.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Marti

    It's sickening how a selfless little girl, concerned about others at such a young age, could illicit so many cruel idiotic responses on this website. You all know who I'm talking about. Instead of ranting on about what you feel is wrong, why don't you look at yourselves. Maybe you'll be sickened as well. You missed the whole point of this article about the tragic loss of a beautiful child just so you could get in your own dig. Pathetic.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. LordofBobz

    Its very sad to see that she died tho and didn't get to see what she did. Unfortunately if she didn't die this would get no attention.
    We live in a sad pathetic world when 9 year olds are giving more to charity than the adults.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      When people are moved by a tragedy such as a child's death, they tend to make irrational emotional remark like yours. She did a selfless act and it was sweet. But she asked people to donate what they would spend on a birthday present basically. There are plenty of adults that have donated MILLIONS of dollars to causes. She is great but don't bash the rest of society. How much did you donate?

      July 25, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    It's pretty weak that MOST Americans are absorbed in self.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Deb

    Terrible loss, not only for her family but the entire world, I'm sure Winehouse's death is getting much more media play than this and it certainly should not, RIP angel

    July 25, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. That Guy

    I just hope that the money is being used for it's intended purpose. Don't let this child dream be shattered due to someone's greed.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. OfraHaza

    Look up ADRA, for your donations, for you people who are soooo concerned about YOUR money after it leaves your hand. (as a gift) ADRA is very little known, but very big on percentage of monies given to the cause at hand, the real NEED!
    You can find them on face book.... facebook.com/joinADRA. REALY??? ANIMALS OVER PEOPLE??? Yes, we should care about animals, but lets pave the way for MORE humans to care about animals, K? (That we we could save even more animals) 😉

    July 25, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      We are also donating money for education. Can you please get some? I think nine years olds have better grammar and spelling skills.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • OfraHaza

      G-d bless each 9 year old, G-d bless the dyslexic and dysnumeric people and G-d bless the spelling and grammar Nazis at a little girls funeral! 😉

      July 25, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lisa

    That is just heart wrenching. Bless her little heart!
    Only the good die young!!!!!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    This little girl has better morals than all of congress put together, and most Americans. We all need to learn from these very special young people. She was taken early for a reason.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
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