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. GSL

    Wow. I wish I could say I was that selfless when I was 9. Sounds like we lost an extraordinary person on saturday.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. echase

    I hate reading things like this, only good thought is that God has taken her to be an angel for the World, and with the climate changing, wars everywhere and idiots like in Norway, God has taken her to be safe.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jiovanni

    Just hope that her dream is kept alive and that the money raised it's wisely used o benefit the millions in need.
    She was a real Angel

    July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dadinin

    Hands up, everyone who was this giving and selfless at age 9. Yeah- me, neither.

    In the midst of such a horrible loss, may sweet Rachel's family experience the kind of comfort and hope that their daughter so wanted for others.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lisaspups

      Well said.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Seriously?!

    to EVERYONE great job to all parties ruining an article of love with hate and taking away what this girl did. Who cares whom did what at what age. This story was meant to lighten hearts not blacken them. The first page of comments is nothing but mud slinging.

    After spending a couple years in Africa, I know the people Rachel is helping and I just want to say THANK YOU!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Individual

      Some people just like being miserable and hateful. They are missing love and kindness in their life and heart. There is nothing you can do for people like this but to ignore their hateful comments.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      My advise..on Good News stories..don't ever, ever read the comments. Just enjoy the article and be happy with that. People like being jerks so as the saying goes, don't feed the trolls...if they get no attention for being cold hearted eventually they will stop. They thrive off the reactions they cause so don't even read them let alone reply to them it just causes them to post more stupid stuff.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bud

    Rest in peace little one. Your vision was and is a noble one even if the reality of the world won't allow it to flourish. 90% of us on here never had your visions at that age. I'm saddened that such a little one was taken from us. May your family know peace and may the hereafter be something real and happy for you. Sad read, Joe.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Darlene Buckingham

    If only people like Bill Gates would focus on clean water rather than vaccines as the solution to helping people. Thank you Rachel for your gift to us that we remember that water is sacred and the giver of life. Peace to you and Peace to ALL.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • speckledmom

      What's wrong with vaccines?

      Please don't tell me that they cause autism, because they don't.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      There are people focusing on water issues - check out CDC, The Carter Center, WHO, and many many others. There are so many needs in the world, and Gates Foundation is focusing its resources where it believes it can make a greater impact.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel's Legacy

      A world without vaccines, would be a world with many more dead or dying people! The fact that the Gates Foundation is working on this issue makes me want to stand up and cheer! If you have ever lived in Africa (I have) and seen the children (and adults) dying needlessly of diseases that are easily cured by a simple shot, then you would NEVER make such an ignorant statement. I agree that clean water is also a wonderful cause! This is something that everyone must understand, there is not just one issue...it seems so overwhelming at times. Then you see people like sweet Rachel and you think one step at a time, one person CAN make a difference. Think of all of the people who read this article, or see the FB page made in her honor, who did not even know that there was such a issue as lack of clean water in many parts of the world...now they do. Perhaps even now someone, somewhere is thinking to themselves...I have an idea how we can fix this! You just never know. One person can make a difference. Even more than the money raised in her name, this may be her legacy.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sad

    I'm sorry, but this is pathetic. So, a little girl has to die for anyone to contribute money to her good cause?! That is a wonderful message. Until there is a catastrophe, everyone sits on their a**es.
    How about this... why not find a living child and make their wish come true instead of waiting for them to die? Sound good. Good.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawna

      Unless YOU contributed to her cause before she died, I think a little shutting up is in order.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      You are an idiot. You failed to see the point of the story. Climb back into your self-righteous hole and leave the human beings with real human feelings alone. It wasn't an "ends justify the means" story dumb-ass. It was a "some good can come out of bad" story. Grow up.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      People are seriously going to bad-mouth the charity of a 9year old child? Try this.... either give.. or don't.. but keep negative comments to yourself. I personally, I talked about this little girl's story with my twin 6year olds and let them decide what they wanted to do. Never once did they say "Why dont we give money to a living child'. They wanted to help, they wanted to honor Rachel and they wanted to let her parents know how sorry they were...

      July 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Strange

    How come this was not filed in the religion.blogs.cnn.com section?

    July 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin

      Why *would* it be?

      July 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • speckledmom

      Because it has absolutely nothing to do with religion?

      July 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. Bojangles

    I suppose God "needed" her in Heaven more than having such a smart, gracious youth
    here in today's America. I'll never get that argument. Most people will say I don't understand
    God's plans; well, I know F'd up plans when I see them.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freeborn

      You have no idea what the plans are. Where were you when God created the earth and spoke light into existence? God has a plan for every single life. We do not have the knowledge required to determine what every single plan will be. Only God does. What may look like a disaster to you may be a blessing to another. Try to remember that there is a bigger picture and that this life on earth is just a speck of eternity. This family is in pain because this little girl is gone, that is for sure. But God will see them through the pain and whatever purpose there is through this situation will be accomplished. We are not all knowing. We just are able to know and trust the One who is.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robin

    How wonderful that her intention is brought to fruition, and how wonderful that a child would care so much about the well being of others, perhaps on the other side of the room.

    And...what a distressing part of human nature that so many people seem to open their wallets (and in some cases, homes) only in the face of media publicity of tragedy....just like a puppy mill story on CNN, and hundreds of people show up to adopt those puppies, when there are thousands of puppies, from puppy mills and elsewhere, who are ready and available for adoption right down the road from any of our homes. Are Americans really so shallow that we can't give our energy or attention to anything if it's not a tearjerker story on tv or the internet? This little girl obviously didn't fit that mold–maybe instead of, or in addition to, giving to her cause, we could try acting on our own, without media prompting...?

    July 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin

      Oops, that was supposed to read "on the other side of the world".

      July 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      I feel the same way. We've had the same situation here with the kids whose parents were killed in that car accident–support is coming in from all over, including from celebrities. Of course, it won't be there a year from now, when the kids have been forgotten by everyone. And who knows how many children are orphaned all the time–lots are in foster care.

      Charitable giving shouldn't be something you do in response or something you only do at Christmas. It should be done regularly, all year, to help all the different people who need it–not just the ones who make the news.

      One organization I like is Kiva–it has the benefit of getting a lot of mileage out of $25, as that money is re-loaned again and again. It's neat. Heifer is also good, with the animal gift system. None of this has to be a huge financial strain for you to do or take any real time. In this day and age, there's little excuse when it can all be done automatically from your bank account or via a website in a click.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cait

    What a beautiful act of selflessness from a precious girl. I hope her heartfelt gift will influence others to do the same. My heart goes out to those who loved her.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lilly

    This is refreshing. And a little child shall lead them. Kudos goes to the parents for raising such a rare Gem.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lilly

    This is refreshing. And a little child shall lead them. Kudos to the parents for raising such a gem.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JuleS

    What amazing understanding, empathy and depth of character for such a young girl. It's hard to fathom why, with the world in such dire straits, God would choose to take her away from us.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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