Tragedy Encourages Charity

by M-Gillies

Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. 90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are of children under five years old.

Generally, when a child is asked what they want for their birthday, the answer varies among a wide range of commercial toys, dolls, action figures, lego, video games and the works. However, for Rachel Beckwith, her ninth birthday wish on June 12, 2011 was more selfless. All she wanted for her birthday was for friends and families to donate a small amount of money to a charity providing clean water to families in developing nations.

“I found out that millions of people don’t live to see their fifth birthday,” Beckwith was quoted as saying on her charity website. “And why? Because they don’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.”

While the Seattle-area girl earned $220 for her charitable cause, just short of her goal of $300, she had decided that in the forthcoming year, she would again, try to raise more money. However, on July 20, 2011, a 14-vehicle pileup along interstate 90 in Bellevue, Washington, injured Beckwith and six others.

For three days, Beckwith lay in a Seattle hospital before being taken off life support on Saturday. However, prior to her death, news of Beckwith’s fundraising had gone viral as her church took to Facebook, Twitter and its own website to promote her cause.

While her death is a tragedy, her noble and selfless act of generosity has earned Beckwith’s online fundraising page upwards to $95,476 from over 1000 donors.

At the memorial service held at Eastlake Community Church in Bothell, family and friends described Beckwith as a person full of joy, and while she touched everyone she encountered with her radiating life and selflessness, her death is a heartbreaking tragedy.

Read more:

After girl’s death, selfless act lives on | CNN.com

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