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. OfraHaza

    Sure wish one could "like" some of the comments here! YES Rachel is one classy gal, and should I be found worthy, I anticipate meeting her. My heart goes out to her family. Rachel's story probably made "front page news" in heaven, a worthy story far above the (sadly) "Winehouse" non surprise.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Patricia Flores

    Funny how God speaks to us threw the mouths of babes. I'm happy she is w/ our Savior now may our Lord comfort her family my prayers are w/ them.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      I like to think nobody spoke through her, but that she was solely a caring and loving human.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope111

      Yep, some people couldn't recognize God if He came down and stood in their midst! And their ears are stopped up so they can't hear Him....But He does speak, nevertheless!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • razzi

      What a blessing!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Sqeezer

      god would've skipped the middle-man and delivered rain straight to the needy, duh. Rachel should be remembered for her generosity, don't hi-jack this story for your own religious motivations.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Prometheus

      I agree Chase. Believing in God is believing in fate. God has it all planned out, so why not just sit on our butts and wait for him to do the heavy lifting while we sing songs about him in praise? You can't simultaneously believe that you have free will AND that God knows the future of your decisions. Those two ideas are mutually exclusive to one another.

      I choose to believe in you and I and the future we make for ourselves. Rachel WAS a good-hearted human being. She showed us all who we can ALL be. We do not need God to preside over kindness or humanity to act. We just need to do this because we can. Don't relegate kindness and charity to a schedule or a rigid set of rules or qualifications in a dusty old book...like Sunday school. We are better than that.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Cody

      Jesus Christ. Yes, this little girl went to church but NO WHERE does it say that she was influenced by God to go and be a decent human being.

      Stop tarnishing what she did because it fits your religious agenda. Human beings do not need God to be decent. Every single one of you knows throughout history how much pain and suffering nearly every religion has caused.

      Do NOT spit your pompous, religious naysaying and make this act that a nine year old girl had the intelligence and will to do insignificant because "OH MAI GAWD GAWD TALKED TO HEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!"

      God didn't talk to her and if you need religion to be a decent human being then you are what is wrong with this world.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • justanurse

      Patricia- that was a sweet thing to say. Although I don't particularly agree with your beliefs, I will not be an intolerant and self-righteous atheist. Your good intentions and honestly kind words should be appreciated, not spit back at you. Let us all have our own moral compass that we choose to help guide us on our journeys- and not take that right away from anyone else. Peace to you: )

      July 25, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • TC

      God Bless you Rachel! And to all you atheists – DONT HIJACK this story with your insensitive comments! She was who she was becasue of her belief in the Lord who commanded us to help others. Instead of ignoring this – put some brain cells as to why helping others was important to her and how God was a priotrity in her life. Thank you LOrd for Rachel and for the opportunity for this story to get out and money to be raised for the charity!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • BS

      This story isn't about whether God exists or not. Take your garbage to a place where people actually want to hear it. A person who believes in God is not going to stop believing just because some arrogant dumba$$es wrote a few sentences in the comments section of a news article. You're wasting your time.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bates

    A small beacon of hope in the fading life of humanity... I'd say yes. People could learn from this little girl but they won't.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |

    What a tremendous effort from a little girl.

    Me and a girl in the Philippines are trying to get more money to put a water well in the Tabaco City region for their community and after about 6 months she has half the amount for one well.

    She was sponsored when she was young and now she sponsors more than 3 children and I want to help her put in many more wells that she tells me that are needed. I am now able to send her the balance when she gets word from the well drillers.

    Little girls have very compassionate hearts but need adults to finance them.

    Come on folks, find out how you can help her cause. There is a tremendous reward for you someday. You can be where she is.

    July 25, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Prometheus

    I do not believe in God but I see the role of the church in a species that cannot comprehend it's true nature and potential.

    I believe in you and I. I believe in the tremendous potential and power each and every one has within them.

    Rachel...you dear are to me what religious minded people would refer to as 'an Angel'. Thank you.

    Gone but not forgotten.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope111

      You said "I see the role of the church in a species that cannot comprehend it's true nature and potential"

      Say, what do you think , what potential would YOU have if i t was not given to you by your Creator?
      In fact, you're the one who fails to comprehend your true nature, that you are corrupt, base and desti-tute in your own self, but only by the grace of God it is that you can even do any good thing. And if you ascribe those to yourself, patt-ing yourself on the shoulders as if it were your own righteousness, by that you're ROBING God...

      But you could not understand that either, because of your own deficiencies... But nevertheless, you are guilty of it. So, instead of you running down others, get concerned about what you're lacking!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • carice jackson

      Self righteousness and self gloating is never good. We were all created by God and we should never take credit for the goodness within us because it is he who have given it to us. We should take any opportunity given, to worship and praise him because he is holy and righteous. I also believe that everyone was born with a purpose and a message to share with the world and this precious little girl is a prime example of such. Unkind words against God is Blasphemy and yall should be careful what you say, i must agree i dont believe in religion because it causes confusions in what we should really believe and have faith in which is Christ Jesus. I just thought i would put my two cents in after reading some of these comments. God is Love and the sooner you forget about all religion and accept Jesus as your christ and saviour and the son of God your life will never be the same and the things that come out of your mouth will be pure and kind....Be blessed

      July 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Thanks Rachel for making the world a little better amongst all the chaos and turmoil.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. BS

    Two lessons here. One: if a 9yr old girl can figure out what's important in life, so can everyone else. Two: odds are that the traffic accident that killed her was not only preventable, but probably caused and/or exacerbated by people driving in an unsafe manner (tailgating, distractions, DWI, reckless driving, etc). Getting to your destination 5 seconds or 5 minutes sooner is not worth putting other people's lives in danger.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Here is a story from one of the Seattle stations. http://www.kirotv.com/traffic/28615641/detail.html
      Appears the cause is still undetermined, but it involved inattentive driving by one or two semi-truck drivers. RIP Rachel and thanks for the shining example for good.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. petercha

    God bless that little girl. May she rest in peace.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope111

      Oh, that child IS resting in peace, her precious eyes beholding the face of God, and praising Him for HIS unspeakable gift of His Son Jesus Christ!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope111

      Oh, that child IS resting in peace, her precious eyes beholding the face of God, and praising Him for gift of His Son Jesus Christ!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. JJ5inFL

    THANK YOU!!! For FINALLY posting a POSITIVE news story!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Becky

    What a truly sweet and selfless girl. I wish CNN would report more on stories like this instead of about the latest self-absorbed celebrity.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • sosideirish

      Spot on! Took the words right out of my head.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kathleen


    July 25, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |

    This subject has attracted a lot of good intentions from you folks through your talking. Now start walking, not just talking.

    EVERYONE of you, show how your mouth can work and each one of you GIVE $400.00 to her 'cause'. Excuses is not going to help her 'cause' at all.

    Ya, I know I'm a jerk but so what?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      I can't give $400, who can afford a whole weeks' salary? But I did send $40. Is that acceptable to you?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |

      Yes, if you send her another $40.00 in the next 9 weeks. This is not a game with me.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. peggy


    How about Misery!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. trashtalking_sumiak


    May you walk around the heavens with our lord and savior Jesus Christ and his angels.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Hope111

      She is! 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jen

    It's heart breaking that she's gone...imagine what she could have accomplished in her lifetime. My daughter did the same thing last year for her 5th birthday, but she wanted to donate to the Humane Society.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |

      That may be because she wasn't taught that humans are more important than animals.

      July 27, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
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