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A Sunday Story, a day late.

Once, not very long ago, there was a little girl named Rachel. She was turning nine. She had planned a birthday party. She was probably expecting Barbie dolls and nail polish, like most little girls. She was probably going to have a cake and games and maybe even a sleepover.

Rachel never had that party though.

She decided to cancel it.

She'd heard of the birthday challenge from an organization called Charity Water. The challenge involved asking for donations to the organization, rather than gifts, in honor of your own birthday. Rachel wanted to take part. She wanted people without water to have it. She wanted this, one can suppose, more than dolls and nail polish and a sleepover.

Rachel asked loved ones to donate at least $9 in honor of her ninth birthday and her goal was $300. She knew that with this she could provide clean water to ten people because in most areas it costs only about $30 per person to install the equipment needed to harvest water for those without it.

This is what Rachel wanted for her ninth birthday. She wanted to provide water for those who were born without it.

And she did it. She raised $220 for her ninth birthday donation.

But Rachel told her mother that she was disappointed. She told her mother that she felt like she had let people down. She told her that she'd work harder next year, that she'd meet her goal.


Rachel didn't see that goal get met the next year though.

Before then, there was a multi-car accident on a highway near where she lived. There was only one fatality.

It was Rachel.

This little girl who had canceled her birthday party so that she could donate all of the money that would otherwise be spent on her, died in a multi-car accident.

Over the next few weeks the news of this tragedy began to spread, not just in her community, but across the country and then even across the world. People, so moved by Rachel's compassion and values and heart, donated to Charity Water, to an organization that provides clean water to people who currently walk sometimes hours a day to gather water from dirty swamps, to gather water that in the end often kills them away.

And so, before Rachel's tenth birthday, she met her goal of donating $300.

She met it again and again and again and again.

Before her tenth birthday Rachel had raised over 1.3 million dollars for water. She did it through the kindness of about 40,000 strangers who were desperately moved by Rachel's love, and by her death.

She raised 1.3 million dollars.

She likely saved more than 43,000 lives with clean water.

But she never turned ten.

"Funny when you're dead how people start listenin'."

-If I die Young by The Band Perry

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