Rachel Beckwith was fast approaching her 9th birthday and had one wish, to have all of her friends donate $9 each to a charity that would bring wells and fresh water to villages that had none. It was her goal to raise $300 for the charity she had set her heart on. Rachel eventually did reach her goal, and soo much more.
New York Times: Rachel’s Last Fund-Raiser
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Rachel lived outside Seattle and early on showed a desire to give back. At age 5, she learned at school about an organization called Locks of Love, which uses hair donations to make wigs for children who have lost their own hair because of cancer or other diseases. Rachel then asked to have her long hair shorn off and sent to Locks of Love.
“She said she wanted to help the cancer kids,” her mother, Samantha Paul, told me. After the haircut, Rachel announced that she would grow her hair long again and donate it again after a few years to Locks of Love. And that’s what she did.
Then when she was 8 years old, her church began raising money to build wells in Africa through an organization called charity:water. Rachel was aghast when she learned that other children had no clean water, so she asked to skip having a ninth birthday party. In lieu of presents, she asked her friends to donate $9 each to charity:water for water projects in Africa.
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.
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.”
Rachel’s courage at the very young age of 9yrs to give finally resulted in $1,265,823 worth of donations to bring fresh water wells to others who didn’t have access to clean drinking water.
Rachel’s donation page: http://www.mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=16396
Rachel’s mom Samantha is keeping her daughter’s memory and deep desire to help others alive by continuing the giving as a tribute to Rachel’s. To donate, go to: http://mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=21634