SEATTLE — Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to help bring clean water to people in poor countries. Donors from across the world are making sure her wish is realized after her death, perhaps a thousand times over.
Rachel was about $80 short of her goal when she turned 9 in June, and then a horrific highway traffic accident took her life away last week. But news of the Bellevue, Wash., girl’s pluck and selflessness emerged after the tragedy, and it is inspiring thousands of people — most of them strangers — to push her dream along.
By Tuesday afternoon, her webpage that was set up to take contributions for charity:water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations, had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges.
“What could have been simply a senseless ending to such a beautiful beginning of your story has turned into something so much more. I hope that if at all possible the obvious compassion so many others have shown in taking up your empathetic cause brings some peace to you and your family,” wrote one anonymous donor who pledged $31
Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, posted a message Monday on the website: “I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter’s 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!”
Rachel’s family attends EastLake Community Church, a nondenominational church of about 4,000 members in Bothell, a suburb northeast of Seattle. The church held a benefit concert in September that helped raise more than $300,000 for charity:water to bring clean water to the Bayaka tribe in the Central African Republic.
Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water, said he and the lead pastor of EastLake Community Church, Ryan Meeks, were in the Central African Republic touring the charity’s waterprojects last week when they learned that Rachel had been seriously injured in an accident.
Rachel was in a car with her mother and younger sister on Interstate 90 when a semitrailer jackknifed into a logging truck, causing a chain-reaction crash involving more than a dozen vehicles, according to media reports. The semi rear-ended the car carrying Rachel, the only person critically injured.
Rachel was taken off life support over the weekend.