Originally from Wikipedia, but deleted there. All history imported since this story is too important to simply be lost.

Rachel Beckwith
Born June 12, 2002 (2002-06-12) (age 19)
Issaquah, Washington, U.S.
Died July 23, 2011(2011-07-23) (aged 9)
Bellevue, Washington, USA

Rachel Beckwith (12 June 2002 – 23 July 2011) was a 9 year old girl born in Issaquah, Washington who was close to meeting her goal of donating $300 to bring water to Africa, died on July 23, 2011 after a car accident in Bellevue, Washington. In her memory, strangers have made over 26,000 donations, for a total of more than $1,000,000 to the charity.[1]

Rachel's fundraising campaign

On a website set up by Rachel and her mother before her birthday, she explained the inspiration for her project. "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," she wrote. "I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday."

By her June 12 birthday, $220 was raised and the page was closed. On July 20, Rachel was fatally injured in a 13-car pileup on Interstate 90 in Bellevue, Washington. On July 23, 2011 she was taken off life support and a pastor from her church arranged for the donation page to be reopened. The total raised by Rachel's appeal for charity: water has been growing exponentially since her death. Rachel's mom, Samantha Paul, who was also injured in the accident, thanked donors online for their generosity. "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," Paul wrote. "I know Rachel is smiling!" Her little sister, Sienna, was also in the car but not seriously injured.

"We've all been so deeply moved by Rachel's unselfishness," said Scott Harrison (charity founder), who used his own 34th and 35th birthdays to raise money to bring clean drinking water to Africa. "Charity: water" estimates each $20 donation is enough to provide one person with clean drinking water for 20 years. In the past five years, the New York-based charity has raised $48 million and supported 3,962 water projects in Africa, Asia and Central America. The money is spent mostly to dig wells, improve water systems or catch rainwater and the projects usually serve entire communities.

Rachel's fundraising campaign has quickly become the largest in the history of "charity: water," which depends mostly on individuals to invite their friends and families to give money to celebrate a birthday or wedding or other event, said spokeswoman Sarah Cohen. Rachel was inspired to support the charity when Harrison spoke at her church. Donors wrote on Rachel's page that they were humbled by her generosity, called her an angel, and some even asked her to say hello to dead relatives.

The car accident

Shortly before 8 a.m., the driver of the semi slammed on the brakes as the semi approached stop-and-go traffic on I-90 at 133rd Avenue Southeast in Bellevue. The collision created a chain reaction, with 13 passenger vehicles hit by the semi truck, the logging truck or logs from the truck, according to Sgt. Keith Trowbridge, of the Washington State Patrol. Rachel, who was in one of the passenger vehicles, was taken to Harborview Medical Center. Six other people had minor injuries and were treated at the hospital and released, according to spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

Sean Mee was in front of the car carrying the girl who was injured. He recalled looking back a moment before the accident and making eye contact with the girl's mother, who was driving. He saw the semi pushing through traffic toward them. "Then out of nowhere this logging truck clipped the semi, and the axle flew off," he said. The woman's car turned sideways and blocked him and others from the impact of the crash, he said.

Rachel was the most critically injured of the seven people hurt in a chain-reaction collision. At Harborview, doctors told family members there was nothing they could do for her. Family members decided they would say their final goodbyes - then tell doctors to disconnect the machines. They say even in Rachel's final hours, she keeps teaching others how to give.


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