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Rachel Beckwith (2002-2011)

Who is Rachel Beckwith

Rachel Beckwith Rachel Beckwith was a 9-year-old American girl who, for her birthday, wanted to raise $300. She asked family and friends not to buy her any presents but to give money towards the charity: water campaign. In the month after her birthday, she had raised $220.

On July 20, 2011, Beckwith was travelling in a car with her mother and sister when it was hit in a 13 vehicle pile-up. Her mother and sister escaped with minor injuries but Beckwith was taken to hospital. On July 23, it was decided to turn off her life support.

A pastor from her church then reopened the donor page that she had created with her mother on a social network. Donations began to pour in from all over the world. On 12 August 2011, Beckwith's campaign collections broke the $1 million mark. When the campaign ended on October 1, 2011, it had raised $1,271,713. This money was donated by 31,980 people across the world.

Press about Rachel

Rachel Beckwith Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise money for a clean-water charity by asking for donations instead of presents for her ninth birthday. Now, her death is inspiring other kids to do the same.

A California man who was touched by Rachel's story has started 9th Birthday, an online campaign to get at least 300 children to skip presents on their ninth birthday and ask instead for donations to Rachel's favorite nonprofit, charity:water.

"This is a powerful way to help keep Rachel’s story alive and give her gift of giving to the next generation," David Hissami of San Clemente, Calif., explains on the 9th Birthday website.

Rachel Beckwith Rachel had wanted to raise at least $300 for charity:water by the time she turned 9. Someone had told her that there are people in the world who die because they don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Rachel created a campaign on charity: water's site to raise money, but she fell a little short of her goal by the time she turned 9 on June 12.

Just a few weeks later, on July 20, she was severely injured in a 14-vehicle chain-reaction crash on Interstate 90 in Bellevue, Wash., not far from her home. She died three days later.

News of her charity wish spread after her death, and suddenly donations from across the world poured in to charity:water in her name. Rachel's death also helped keep others alive: One of her donated kidneys was transplanted into a California man , who in turn donated to Rachel's cause.

Rachel Beckwith By the time Rachel's charity birthday campaign came to a close on Sept. 30, friends and strangers had raised more than $1.26 million for clean water in her memory.

"Throughout each day I look forward to reading your comments and hearing how Rachel's story has touched people all over the world. In this painful time, it has given me inspiration and comfort," Rachel's mother, Samantha Paul, wrote at the time. "Knowing that Rachel's decision to give up her ninth birthday will now help save thousands of people brings me to tears."

Rachel's story also profoundly moved Hissami, a 27-year-old web analytics freelancer.

Рэйчел Бэквис "I read about the story and it was just one of those things. It really affected me. It really stood out," he said in a phone interview.

"It just somehow occurred to me that so many people were giving to her thing and I wanted to do my part as well. I wanted to do something more long-term, to help people remember her."

Hissami's 9th Birthday isn't affiliated with charity:water or Rachel's mom and the website doesn't solicit donations. Rather, it encourages people to get children to skip presents on his or her ninth birthday and ask instead for donations to charity: water. As of Tuesday, eight children had pledged.

Hissami said he's never met Rachel's family but was inspired by her legacy.

Rachel Beckwith "I’ve seen so much cynicism out there and just seeing something a person so loving at such a young age, it just really stood out to me."

Hissami hasn't publicized the 9th Birthday campaign yet, but he expects that one day when he has children of his own, they — and perhaps millions of other kids — will also want to give up their ninth birthday presents.

"I hope we might be able to define ninth birthday as a time when kids can donate, think of charity," he said.

Rachel Beckwith Will McNae, a spokesman for Rachel's family, said the family was "very excited and humbled" that strangers have felt compelled to do something in Rachel's memory and spirit. "The idea of continuing to spread awareness and education around the lesson of generosity is a fantastic thing," he said.

Rachel's family has also started a nonprofit organization, Rachel's Wishing Well Foundation, to carry on her dream of helping people understand the importance of giving.

Paul, Rachel's mom, plans to travel with charity:water to Ethiopia in July 2012 — the one-year anniversary of Rachel’s death — to visit some of the clean-water projects funded by her campaign.

Rachel's death

A 9-year-old girl was critically injured and six other people were hurt in a 15-vehicle pileup that caused a huge backup on Interstate 90 on Wednesday morning.

Bellevue Fire Department spokesman Troy Donlin said the crash happened in the westbound lanes of the freeway near 133rd Avenue SE at about 8 a.m. and involved a semi truck and a logging truck.

Rachel Beckwith death in car crash The injured girl was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she was admitted into the ICU with brain and spine injuries and a possible broken pelvis. Relatives say they likely won't know her prognosis for another 48 hours.

The six other people were treated for less serious injuries between Harborview and Bellevue's Overlake Hospital.

Hospital officials said the 9-year-old girl's mother and 22-month-old sister were among the injured, but not seriously. The mother was released from care later Wednesday afternoon, but remained at the hospital to be with her daughter.

One of those in the wreck said he was stopped when traffic came to a standstill.

"And then the semi truck and... I don't even know who he hit first, he just started plowing through vehicles," said witness Sean Mee.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Trowbridge said the chain-reaction crash began when the semi truck jackknifed while trying to stop for slowing traffic and crashed into the logging truck.

"You have the semi-truck approaching the traffic, it appears they weren't paying attention, coming in too fast for the conditions of the traffic," Trowbridge said. "Somehow he loses control."

The impact knocked the rear axle off the logging truck and sent it crashing into other cars.

"The trailer was going down the road without anything to steer it, other than the cab," Trowbridge said. Troopers later credited the driver of the logging truck for maintaining as much control of his truck as he could.

Several other vehicles collided in the growing wreck before everything came to a stop.

Rachel Beckwith died in car accident "Basically I saw one semi go over, a cloud of smoke, and then a bunch of cars were involved," said Valery Bavis.

Christina Herman headed to Overlake looking for her husband after he called saying he'd been in a wreck with a logging truck.

"He just kept repeating himself," she said. "He was in shock."

Dirk Bakker was also in the middle of the wreck.

"I heard the log truck come by and rumbled right past me and the next thing I know the other semi truck tagged me," he said. "And I hit the car in front of me and I spun around."

His car is totaled, but his injuries are minor - a sprained finger and stiff back.

"The airbags go off and you go,' OK, I'm here,' " he said.

Debris from the wrecked cars stretched for about a quarter mile and covered most of the freeway, and at its peak, the backup stretched more than six miles. Crews were able to reopen all lanes just after noon.

Trowbridge said the driver of the semi truck is cooperating with investigators. They do not believe drugs or alcohol was a factor. They are also looking into whether the semi suffered an equipment failure prior to the crash.

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