Donations to honor late Issaquah girl surpass $1 million

August 16, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Rachel Beckwith

Charity donations in honor of Rachel Beckwith, a 9-year-old Issaquah girl fatally injured in a pileup last month, surpassed the $1 million mark Aug. 12, as the cause received another round of national attention.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, highlighted Rachel’s mission to raise funds for Charity:Water, a New York-based nonprofit organization spearheading water projects in developing nations.

Donations surged to more than $900,000 after Kristof’s column appeared Aug. 11 and continued upward.

Rachel turned 9 in June and, in lieu of birthday gifts, asked friends and family members to donate to Charity:Water. The girl set a $300 goal, but came up $80 short.

“In the midst of this grim summer, my faith in humanity has been restored by the saga of Rachel Beckwith,” Kristof wrote. “She could teach my generation a great deal about maturity and unselfishness — even though she’s just 9 years old, or was when she died on July 23.”

In the days after a July 20 crash along Interstate 90 in Bellevue, leaders at her church, EastLake Community Church, asked Charity:Water to reactivate her donation website.

How to help

Rachel Beckwith asked people to donate to Charity:Water as a birthday gift. Now, people can donate as a tribute to the late 9-year-girl. Donate at the organization’s website,

Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, plans to travel to Africa on the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s death to see Charity:Water in action. The organization has completed 4,000 projects to provide clean water to more than 1.7 million people in 19 countries.

“All of us at Charity:Water have been humbled by the sacrifice and unselfishness of this remarkable little girl,” founder and CEO Scott Harrison said in a statement released after the total topped $1 million. “To borrow Nick Kristof’s words, may we all learn from Rachel Beckwith.”

Since Rachel succumbed to injuries sustained in the accident, donations to Charity:Water started to pour in, and the flow increased to a deluge as local and national news outlets covered the story.

“NBC Nightly News” and CBS’ “The Early Show” featured Rachel’s last fundraiser in national broadcasts.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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