Rachel Beckwith was a 9-year-old girl who was so moved by the plight of children without water in Africa that she asked her friends to make a $9 donation to charity:water instead of giving her a birthday present. She had raised $220 of her $300 goal when she was seriously injured in a car accident and died a few days later. Now, the birthday page she set up for donations is closing in on $1 million raised.
From Nicholas Kristof's column in the New York Times:
Rachel’s ninth birthday was on June 12, and she had set up a birthday page on the charity:water Web site with a target of $300. Alas, Rachel was able to raise only $220 — which had left her just a bit disappointed.As of my last check today, Rachel's page has raised $951,580 from close to 25,000 people. That amount will provide direct assistance to more than 47,000 people in need of clean water. Quite a legacy for a little girl, and quite a lesson for the rest of us. As long as there are people like Rachel, there is hope for our world.
Then, on July 20, as Rachel was riding with her family on the highway, two trucks collided and created a 13-car pileup. Rachel’s car was hit by one of the trucks, and although the rest of her family was unhurt, Rachel was left critically injured.
Church members and friends, seeking some way of showing support, began donating on Rachel’s birthday page — charitywater.org/Rachel — and donations surged past her $300 goal, and kept mounting. As family and friends gathered around Rachel’s bedside, they were able to tell her — even not knowing whether she couldn’t hear them — that she had exceeded the $47,544 that the singer Justin Bieber had raised for charity:water on his 17th birthday.
“I think she secretly had a crush on him, but she would never admit it,” her mom said. “I think she would have been ecstatic.”
When it was clear that Rachel would never regain consciousness, the family decided to remove life support. Her parents donated her hair a final time to Locks of Love, and her organs to other children. Word spread about Rachel’s last fund-raiser.
Contributions poured in, often in $9 increments, although one 5-year-old girl sent in the savings in her piggy bank of $2.27. The total donations soon topped $100,000, then $300,000. Like others, I was moved and donated. As I write this, more than $850,000 has been raised from all over the world, including donations from Africans awed by a little American girl who cared about their continent.
“What has been so inspiring about Rachel is that she has taught the adults,” said Scott Harrison, the founder of charity:water. “Adults are humbled by the unselfishness of this little girl.”
Click HERE to read Kristof's full column. Click HERE to go to Rachel's page.