Recently I heard a story about a little girl from the town I grew up in, Rachel Beckwith, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident with a semi. She was riding in the car with her mother and year-and-a-half old sibling. Rachel’s side of the car sustained most of the impact of the eighteen-wheeler logging truck. Nine-year-old Rachel was later taken off of life support and died.

I’d like to think that Rachel wasn’t a special kid; that most kids are like she was. I’d like to believe that because she was so selfless. For her birthday last June she told people she didn’t want any gifts. Instead, she wanted to raise money for a charity that drills wells and brings fresh water to people in developing countries. She was just shy of her three hundred dollar fundraising goal when she died. The story of her death ran on a local newscast and donations to the charity quickly grew to six thousand dollars. Within a few hours, after a couple of celebrities tweeted her story on Twitter, her fundraising total approached $150,000.

Rachel’s story reminds me of what a difference just one person can make in the world, how a single individual, even a nine-year-old, can improve the lives of so many others by such a simple charitable act. She must have had amazing parents who taught her the value of altruism instead of selfishness and greed.

I’d like to think that Calvin might have been altruistic like Rachel if he had been able to, somehow, avoid the bitter circumstances of his terrible afflictions and, instead, lead a life with some semblance of normalcy capable of aiding others. Somehow, I think if Rachel had survived, she—and perhaps her own children—might have helped kids like Calvin. And though that isn't going to happen, maybe there are other people out there—other adults, other kids—who will. Imagining that brings a huge smile to my face.

Rachel Beckwith, photo King5.com

1 comment:

  1. I saw Rachel's story on DailyKos.com today, read the story, was inspired, went to the web page and donated. They're just asking for $9! The total donations are now up to $572,000 and counting. She was too young to be cynical, and people are touched by her generosity, hope, and tragedy. She is making a difference, though it's a shame she'll never see it.