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. oh please

    the youth are the easiest to manipulate
    especially through churches
    Tragic that this girl was USED by the church as a propaganda piece.

    August 20, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • TEC4

      Just because the church supported the ministry doesn't mean the money was going to the church. She saw a need and reached out to meet it. Unless you don't believe there are people who don't have clean water?

      August 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jason

    sometimes just wonder how this kind of things can happen? can't we take care our self? jason statham workout

    August 22, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Brandon

    Update to the story. It says her page has raised over $130,000 from over 2,400 donors. As of right now it's raised over $1.2 million from over 30,700 donors. That's more than 10% of the total amount raised by mycharity:water in it's existence.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hugh Jarce

    I can't believe all these morons thanking God for giving her to us for a short time.

    God didn't make us, we made God.

    August 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cymnarima

    Hey guys.. a few words about myself,.. I'm usually one of those ignorant folks that would browse through the forums, seek out
    Necessary information and leave 🙂 Due to some recent events in my life I came to a conclusion and had decided to change
    this ugly aspect about myself and begin contributing as well, or may be at least saying thank you once in a while to those that continually contribute here.


    October 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. That Dude

    Why the HELL do we need MONEY to provide drinkable water to those in need? Because most people are lazy, selfish and ignorant. Most people would just not show up to work and keep collecting their paychecks if they could with no consequences attached. If our entire world population consisted of selfless, admirable people like this little girl than we'd have no need for currency; we'd all be helping each other out with a smile on our faces just because it's the right thing to do.

    Don't just donate a few dollars, leave a thankful comment and forget about this. Follow this girl's example. You don't have to start donation boxes for charity or anything, but please, for the love of God, put in an effort to make they days of everyone around you brighter. Hold a door open for the person behind you, offer to help a senior citizen across the street, don't hold grudges and be slow to anger... you get the idea.

    This whole rant probably sounds pretty corny, but that our society's values have degraded to the point where this girl is a special case of selflessness is a sad story in itself. It's a fact that the quickest way to find happiness is to spread happiness to others, so please do what you can to help make the world a happier place.

    February 15, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marina

    Thank You God for this angel!

    March 13, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Thomas Babington Macaulay

    Great post, I am a news correspondence & for my project I have prepared an article for Jason Halek & when I researched about him, I found that he is really a nice guy, a philanthropic & a great entrepreneur. He has also done some charities for children. I really inspired by him.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Alice

    What a tragic waste of a young girls life, but what an amazing gift she left to the world by donating her presents to charity. What an amazing little girl.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mohamad Iqbal

    Good and Beautiful are going early to Heaven. Hope her dream may fulfill the meaning. I share and convey my sorrow to the noble family of this little princess. The people who will utilize the benefit must understand the value of Water, Nature, Girl and so on.

    January 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
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