SEATTLE -- It was a horrible weekend: shootings in Des Moines and Auburn, fires and accidents, more and more mind-numbing details of the hateful, cold-blooded killings in Norway - all of it making a nasty stew of evening news. But it was a horrible weekend with one glowing kernel of love and faith and good cheer: Rachel Beckwith.
She was just 9 years old when she was critically injured, her spinal cord severed in a pile-up on I-90 last week. Rachel's mother received a minor head injury and her 18-month-old sibling was not injured in the crash. The side of the car in which Rachel was riding unfortunately bore the brunt of the force of the crash.
Saturday, her parents finally took her off life-support.
Too young to be taken, yes, but the way she lived and what she left behind when she died put energy and light back into a cold, dark weekend.
For her birthday in June, she told everybody she didn’t want any presents. She wanted people to donate to Charitywater.org, a group that drills wells and brings fresh water to people in developing countries.
Rachel raised $220, pretty good for a 9-year-old but $80 short of her goal. "No problem," she told her family. "Next year for a tenth birthday I’ll just work harder and raise more!" She didn’t get that chance of course, but boy, is she raising more money.
Her church Pastor Ryan Meeks says Rachel seemed to naturally recognize when people needed help.
“I think that’s incredibly mature for anybody, let alone a child of 9,” Meeks said.
Rachel's donation page was re-opened when she was in the hospital. By the time KING 5’s Elisa Hahn told her story Friday night, news Rachel’s total was up to $6,000. Monday evening it climbed past $140,000. By Wednesday morning, more than $380,000 had been raised.
The cable and broadcast networks heard about the story and ran various versions. It spread on Facebook and Twitter with some high-profile help. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it to her million-plus followers, Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tweeted too, a New York Times columnist gave it a boost.
“It is something that hits us at our core,” said Pastor Meeks.”There is nothing natural about losing a nine-year-old girl. But there's something that we’re attracted to when life comes out of death.”
And now Rachel Beckwith’s quest to pay for water in far-off lands is a flood of love. People from all over the world have watched, listened, tweeted, messaged, followed, friended and best of all donated. Pastor Meeks sees a simple and obvious lesson in Rachel’s actions, and the world’s response.
“A child teaching us adults that maybe it is that simple. You do what you can.”