Through Bellevue girl's death, others will 'drink life'on July 13, 2012 @ 2:32 pm (Updated: 8:50 am - 7/14/12 )
Rachel Beckwith died on July 23, 2011, days after she was critically injured in a car accident. She had just turned 9-years-old.
Instead of presents for her birthday, Rachel had started a personal campaign with charity: water, a New York-based non-profit that helps provide clean water to communities around the world.
"On June 12th 2011, I'm turning 9," she wrote on her fundraising page. "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. I'm asking everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday."
Rachel fell just short of her goal, raising $220 dollars from family and close friends.
After her death, however, word spread of her remarkable selflessness. In just a few weeks, $1.2 million had been donated to her campaign. Charity: water announced that the funds would help give 60,000 people access to clean, safe drinking water.
"Because of her, they now are going to be able to have this great gift; just clean water," said her mother, Samantha Paul. "There are other 9-year-olds that will see 10, and 11, and 12 because she didn't."
For the one-year anniversary of Rachel's death, Paul will travel to the Tigray region of Ethiopia next week to tour the villages that have access to clean water because of Rachel's birthday campaign. Accompanying her on the trip will be representatives from charity: water, family, and the pastor of Paul's church, Ryan Meeks.
Meeks is head of EastLake Community Church, where Rachel was inspired to take on clean water as a cause. The Bothell, Wash., church has helped to raise over $400,000 for clean water projects around the world and is a dedicated supporter of charity: water.
"No amount of money raised will ever bring the peace that would be here with her presence," Meeks said Friday. "However, there are a lot of people who are going to drink life through this loss. That part is beautiful."
Her family has continued Rachel's birthday wish through a new charity: water campaign, started in honor of her little sister, Sienna.
On August 3, EastLake will hold an event to raise awareness of the continued water crisis in developing countries. All proceeds from the Drink4Drinks concert will go toward clean water for the nation of Cambodia.
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