Originally published August 15, 2011 at 3:50 PM | Page modified August 15, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Touched by the heart of a 9-year-old

Nine-year-old Rachel Beckwith died in a car accident in July; the story of her amazing birthday wish and generous heart has stirred a community and a nation.


To learn more about Rachel's effort, go to:

quotes A truely amazing story - RIP... Read more
quotes What a great job Rachel's parents did in raising her. She had all she needed, and knew... Read more
quotes Part of why America is so great... we're always the 1st to help :-) Read more

IT makes the eyes mist to think what if — what if 9-year-old Rachel Beckwith survived the car wreck to see what her generous and inspiring birthday wish produced: more than $1 million in donations to bring clean water to African villages.

Rachel's ninth birthday was in June. In lieu of gifts, she and her mom created a fundraising page on a charity website seeking contributions for safe drinking water in Africa, a project she learned about through her church.

Her goal was to raise $300 by her birthday but the effort produced only $220. She was a little disappointed.

Flash forward, tragically, to July 20, when Rachel and her family were in a 13-car accident on Interstate 90. She was the only one in her family seriously injured — fatally, it turned out. While her family gathered around her bedside, news stories circulated about a child with the compassion of a dozen saints. Donations poured in for her cause, "charity: water."

For all those cynics who think the younger generation is full of egotistic narcissists yapping away on smartphones, Rachel Beckwith was someone altogether different.

As a 5-year-old, she donated locks of her hair to children who had lost theirs to illness.

After the accident, her family once again gave away hair locks. And donations keep arriving for clean-water projects in Africa. Initially, Rachel's goal was to help 15 kids get clean drinking water. Now, efforts in her honor will produce clean water for more than 51,000 people.

If only Rachel survived. If only she knew how deeply she moved others who were touched by her giant heart.


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