Shortly before her ninth birthday, Rachel learned that kids on the other side of the planet were spending more time walking to find and collect dirty water than they were in school, and she decided to help.
Instead of birthday gifts that year, she asked her family and friends to donate $9 to her fundraising campaign. She wanted to raise $300 – enough to bring clean water to 10 kids in need.
But she fell short of her goal, raising $220.
Rachel’s mom assured her it was good enough, and that she could try again for her next birthday.
One month later, a tractor-trailer smashed into a car that she was riding in with her mother and younger sister. The accident took Rachel’s life.
News of her death shook the entire Seattle community. And then, Rachel’s story began to spread.
A local news station mentioned Rachel’s wish to raise $300 and bring clean water to kids in need, and hundreds of strangers started to give $9 in her memory. Then it became thousands. Then tens of thousands.
Within weeks, the heart of this 9-year-old girl had inspired 31,997 donations to her fundraising campaign.
Rachel’s $220… grew into $1.2 million.
Enough to bring clean and safe drinking water to 37,770 people in Ethiopia.
** One year later
On the anniversary of her death, Rachel’s mom and grandparents visited Tigray, Ethiopia to meet many of the families who received clean water.
Thousands came out to greet the family — singing and dancing in celebration of Rachel.
Over the next few years …
Rachel’s mom and little sister continued fundraising in her memory. Together, they’ve raised another $157,995 for clean water — bringing the total to $1.4 million.
New remote sensors on those wells show us exactly what that impact looks like on a village level. For example, we know that 250 people in Beato Community collect an average of 1,484 liters every day — because of Rachel.
But the story didn’t even end there …
408 of the people who donated to Rachel’s fundraising campaign then went on to fundraise for clean water just like Rachel did. And one by one, they began changing and inspiring lives too.
That group has raised another $1.7 million for clean water.
Rachel and the community she inspired have changed the lives of more than 100,000 people around the world. People who are now healthier and stronger because of Rachel. Kids with more time for school because of Rachel. Moms and Dads who can build better futures for generations to come because of Rachel.
Rachel proved just how much impact one life can have.
Not only did her wish help change the lives of over 100,000 people who got clean water; it also changed the lives of 44,018 people who gave clean water. She’s inspired generosity, kindness and love all over the world.
Rachel reminds us that there’s good in all of us. That every single person on this planet has the opportunity to change lives, to build a legacy.