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9-year-old's memory inspires over $1 million in donations

By Ali Elkin, CNN
In honor of her birthday, Rachel Beckwith tried to raise $300 to provide clean water for people in need.
In honor of her birthday, Rachel Beckwith tried to raise $300 to provide clean water for people in need.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Memory of 9-year-old Seattle girl has created a surge in donations on her behalf to Charity Water
  • Donating to the charity was Rachel Beckwith's birthday wish
  • More than 21,000 donations have been made on Rachel's behalf

For more information on this story, check out CNN affliliates KOMO and KING

(CNN) -- The 9-year-old who died shortly after trying to raise $300 for 15 people in need has posthumously surpassed her goal thousands of times over.

It has been almost three weeks since Rachel Beckwith's death, and on Friday her online fundraising page hit a milestone and has drawn more than $1,000,000 in donations, affording clean water to over 50,000 people.

Rachel Beckwith had wanted to give back for her birthday. Instead of the bicycles and charm bracelets on which most 9-year-old girls fixate, the Seattle-area child wanted to provide clean water to 15 people. She asked that friends and family donate money to a fundraising page she created through Charity Water.

"On June 12th 2011, I'm turning 9," Rachel wrote on her page. "I found out that millions of people don't live to see their 5th birthday. And why? Because they didn't have access to clean, safe water so I'm celebrating my birthday like never before. I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday."

When she turned 9 in June, Rachel was $80 short of her goal. A month later, a 14-car pileup severed her spinal cord and left her on life support for three days. When she died on July 23, she had already exceeded her goal. Her church had taken to social media, spreading the word about Rachel's fundraising page, titled "Rachel's 9th Birthday Wish."

Since then, more than 21,000 donations have been made. Some are for $9, in honor of Rachel's age, while others are for thousands. Some donors commented, speaking of their own children who had asked for donations to Rachel's campaign for their own birthdays.

After girl's death, selfless act lives on

At the time of Rachel's death, her pastor, Ryan Meeks, told CNN affiliate KOMO about the Eastlake Church's goal in spreading the word about Rachel's project.

"She did what she could and now she can't, but we could pick up where she left off," Meeks said.

Two days after she died, on Monday July 25, her page had already raised $130,000, now only a fraction of total donations.

That day, Rachel's mother updated the statement her daughter had written on the site, saying, "I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter's dream and make it a reality. In the face of unexplainable pain you have provided undeniable hope. Thank you for your generosity! I know Rachel is smiling!"