An 18-wheeler ended her life. But what she did months after her death had the whole world talking.

Most young kids look forward to celebrating their birthdays every year. There’s usually a big cake, lots of colorful balloons, an awesome party with all your best friends and perhaps most importantly: presents. While most kids might dream of getting a new toy or video game for their birthday, Rachel Beckwith from Washington, USA, asked for something quite unusual for her ninth birthday.


Rachel had heard that there are places in the world where people die because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. This was shocking to Rachel. She simply could not fathom that clean water – something she took for granted – wasn’t readily available everywhere and that people’s lives were being cut tragically short as a result. The little girl wanted to do something about the situation so for her ninth birthday she asked all her family and friends to donate money to a clean water charity. Her goal was to raise $300. When her birthday rolled around, she counted up all the donations she had received and was disappointed to learn that she did not meet her goal: She had raised “just” $220. But Rachel was resilient and strong and refused to let that hold her back. The girl boldly declared to her mother that next year she would try harder and make her dream come true.


About a month after Rachel’s ninth birthday, she and her mother were driving along the highway when an 18-wheeler rear-ended them and 14 other vehicles, creating a massive and deadly pile-up. Rachel and her mother were immediately rushed to the emergency room. While her mother was released from care by the afternoon of the accident, Rachel, who had been sitting in the backseat of the car, was in critical condition and barely hanging onto her life. Fighting back tears, her mother looked on as Rachel was treated in the ICU of the hospital and begged her to be strong. Three days after the accident, it became clear that Rachel would not be able to recover from the injuries she had sustained and her family made the painful decision to take her off life support.


A few weeks after Rachel’s death, a pastor at Rachel’s church spoke about the efforts Rachel had been making to raise money for the clean water charity and reopened the donation page that she and her mother had been operating. Via the internet, word spread quickly about Rachel’s dying wish to make clean water more easily accessible in all areas of the world. Her story moved people to the core and donations began to flood into the donation page.


By the beginning of October, Rachel’s dream had come true: She surpassed her goal of raising $300 by a landslide $1,271,713. This money went on to help 37,700 people – a large percentage of whom live in Ethiopia – get better access to clean drinking water. Watch the video below to find out more about Rachel’s story and the people she helped:

What an impact this little girl’s dying wish had! Her family can be so proud of the incredible things that their little girl accomplished in her lifetime and beyond.

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