Two years ago started off like any other normal Wednesday morning during the summer. I woke up, drove to the gym so I could swim. After my laps, I got ready for work and left the gym. A normally 5 to 10 minute drive to work suddenly became a 30+ drive. There was a seemingly unending influx of cars in the normally not so busy stretch from the gym to my work. I grumbled in my car, becoming more and more frustrated. I flipped through the radio until I found a traffic report – a huge accident had occurred on the freeway, and the backup was several miles long.
I finally arrived at work and when I got to my desk (my nearest window overlooks the freeway) I could see the aftermath. A semi had jack-knifed. Many cars were involved, including a logging truck. I immediately felt contrite for having been so upset earlier about having my commute interrupted. At least I wasn’t in the accident (which could have easily happened had it been a Thursday and not a Wednesday).
The clean-up took several hours and the freeway was basically shut down. All of this unfolded in front of my eyes.
Why am I rehashing this accident? While I wasn’t personally impacted, as more details emerged, I fell in love with a little girl who ended up losing her life as a result of the accident.
Rachel Beckwith, who had the most amazing smile and had just turned 9, was killed in the accident. She had given up presents for her 9th birthday and asked instead for people to donate to charity: water.
People’s accessibility to water around the world has always been a cause close to my heart. I previously had known of charity: water and their work to bring clean, safe water to people in developing countries.
Rachel didn’t quite reach her birthday goal. But as a result of the accident, people started donating to honor Rachel. The donations came pouring in from all over. I became obsessed with watching her donation page. Every morning I would check the level of her donations – watching it creep higher and higher until it hit the $1 million mark. And out of tragedy came hope for so many.
A year after the accident, Rachel’s mom traveled to see some of what Rachel’s birthday wish had accomplished.
And now two years later, Rachel continues to inspire me. charity: water released the statistics on Rachel’s Birthday Wish – her gift impacted over 37,000 people. Simply amazing. This story continues to give me hope.