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. Tha Chikin

    Most little girls her age are more interested in their toys, or playing, etc. She had a very beautiful and bright future ahead of her. Her death is a loss to all of us because we need more people like her in the world.

    It's too bad that it takes the death of someone righteous for people to do something to help others. Hopefully, those that did something won't stop there, they will continue to do good deeds in her honor for years to come.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Todd

    Wow, what an amazing little girl. RIP

    July 25, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Weston Radcliff

    I'm absolutely certain Republicans will be rigorously opposing the humanitarian plan, with their usual rant – "I'm not my brother's keeper."

    July 25, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • wow

      way to generalize people, man. 😛

      July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ksoze

      Why throw politics into this? Completely beside the point.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Way to make this poor little girl's beautiful goal into some stupid political pulpit. Jerk.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • i0dukkha

      "... with their usual rant"???? Oh, the irony! I'm guessing you blathering on about Republicans is your USUAL rant. Get a life and stop being so predictable. Also, try some reading comprehension lessons, I think you missed the point of the story.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • lalchi

      What a gross generalization. Republicans actually donate a significant amount to charities. Many Republicans simply feel that they should choose where their money goes instead of being forced through the government to fund people who they don't believe deserve it.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      What a complete jerk. Shame on you, throwing politics into this. Bothers me as much as people saying Cars 2 has a liberal bias. Can't you go one second without realizing not everything revolves around politics? There's other things in life. You must realize that. In place of an apology, I think you should donate to a charity.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • KDL

      Well said. I can't believe anyone would post ANYTHING negative towards each other, get into political debates, etc. on a thread about an innocent 9 yr old's untimely death which also tells of her generous nature. All of you SHOULD be ashamed. Let this be a place where people who want to recognize Rachel for the sweetheart she was (and offer her family our prayers and condolences) post.
      Show some respect.

      July 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ds

      your name is weston radcliffe. there is no way you are not republican.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kells

      What a shame that the very first comment on this tragic, yet inspiring story is something so assinine. Shame on you.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • pod

      please leave the forum – you have no respect and no clue what is appropriate.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Meece

      Actually Weston, republicans give more to charities than democrats, about 30% more. Of the top 25 states where people give an above average percent of their income, 24 were red states in the last presidential election. Source: "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compasionate Conservatism Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters"

      However, why did you drag politics in this at all? This is a story of a little girl who gave from the heart.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cynthia

    This child should be an example to all of us, not some excuse to sound off about birth control, our own backyard, too much aid to foreign countries, etc. In her memory and just because it's a good thing, we could all send a little something to the organization of our choice. Otherwise, you have no credibility.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • anne

      You have a good way with words, Cynthia. 100% agreed. I don't usually bother to comment, but you nailed it! Rest in peace, Rachel, and what a beautiful legacy to leave from your all-too-short life.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Cynthia, most of us have limited resources for charity. So...it makes a GREAT difference where you choose to send your money or help. Obviously both of us want to see our donations go to the place that does the most good.

      I have participated in female run co-ops in third and fourth-world countries. These teach birth control and hand out cond*ms. The money made by the co-ops is split between the female workers. There are separate bank accounts for them which their husbands can't get control of.

      My question: "Where should your limited funds go?" To the husbands who just make more children? Or to the women who are struggling to survive?


      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beadlesaz

      Cynthia: Couldn't have said it better. My sincere condolences to lovely Rachel's family and friends.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. N@tTurn3r

    The good die young – unfortunately. I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, "What, if anything, are you doing to make a difference?"

    July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beadlesaz

      Every day I say to myself – do something for someone or to make the world better. It can be as simple as offering to return someone's cart at the grocery store. Carry a plastic bag when taking a walk and pick up litter (good flexibility exercise.) LOOK at the world around you. GREET people as you walk by. It makes me feel better when I actively try to do this.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike B

    Nice to hear a great story about a little girl's selflessness while grown men in Washington are spending money they don't have and other grown men of the NFL are fighting to get as much as they can. I'm sure there will be a special place in heaven for her.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheThing

      It is pretty disgusting. I guess innocence always knows what is right, while corruption always soils everything it touches…. White vs. black

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Finley

      well said my friend-God bless this little child

      July 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephen


    July 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TheThing

    Sometimes you purpose in life is to be an example for others. Way to go kiddo...

    July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Larry

    What a joy to find out that there are parents who teach their children about helping others and that there are children who want to help. I will judge my life a success if I can selflessly be of help to others like this child.
    "There is no way that you can help others without helping yourself" Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walden's Pond.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Su Su

      I liked your reply. Very nice.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chandni

    RIP Rachel. Your story really touched me and I'm sure many others. You are an inspiration 🙂

    July 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Su Su

    What a selfless young lady! Her memory will live on with all the people she has helped in her short life. Thank you, Rachel's parents for raising such a wonderful person.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sanjosemike

    The issue of which charity you want to donate to should be a part of this article. There are some charities that set up co-ops for females. These are also run by females. Income generated from the co-ops is hidden from their husbands (who would otherwise spend the money on drink, etc.). They also teach birth control and hand out cond*ms.

    There are a number of these programs in India. (I have participated in some of them financially). My point: Do some research with your charity money first. Changing a culture is not easy, but is possible in small doses.

    Dumping money into a population-mill does nothing to really help, because there will just be more children created.


    July 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sasser

    It's amazing how generous children are, and how few stay that way once jaded by the world. Everyone should use this lovely little girl as an example to live by. May God bless her and her family.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TC

    It's nice seeing all the positive comments on here now. What a beautiful story and how this girl was energized in love by God – bless her.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josie

    God bless this child, her loved one, and this charity! I pray more people, of every age, will have the loving heart for other human beings as did this child. What an example!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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