9-Year-Old's Birthday Wish Brings In $200,000 for Charity After Her Unexpected Death

Family Matters on 07.26.11


In June, when Rachel Beckwith of Seattle celebrated her ninth birthday, she told her family and friends to skip the gifts in favor of donations to charity: water, a non-profit that provides clean water to residents of developing countries. Though she had hoped to raise $300, her final total was only $220; undaunted, Rachel told her family that she would simply "work harder and raise more" to mark her tenth birthday in 2012.

Rachel has since raised more than $205,000 for the charity, but with one tragic change: She was critically injured in a car accident last week, reported MSNBC, and her parents took her off life support over the weekend. The hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that have come pouring in since have all been in memory of Rachel.

When Rachel launched her fundraising page (which is still accepting donations), she wrote:


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. I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday. Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations. 


On July 25, Rachel's mother, Samantha, edited the page to include thise note:


I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughters dream and make it a reality. In the face of unexplainable pain you have provided undeniable hope. Thank you for your generosity! 

I know Rachel is smiling!


Actress Alyssa Milano, a frequent supporter of the organization, and NFL player Matt Hasselbeck both used Twitter to spread the word about Rachel's effort, and Rachel's pastor, Ryan Meeks, says he's not surprised by the outpouring of support. "There is nothing natural about losing a nine-year old girl. But there's something that we’re attracted to, when life, comes out of death," he told MSNBC. “A child teaching us adults that maybe it is that simple. You do what you can.”



Screenshot: charity: water

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