Teen Girl Sacrifices Her Life To Save Friend, Completing The Last Item On A Bucket List She Made Years Before

On July 2, 17-year-old Rebecca Townsend was killed after being struck by a car while crossing the street with a friend. In the days after her death, her grieving family discovered that she had made a bucket list as part of a school assignment in 2012. They realized that the teen completed her bucket list in her final act, by saving the life of her friend just before she died.

Townsend’s list contained three items:

  • Kiss in the rain
  • Fly to Spain
  • Save a life

Rebecca’s sister, Victoria Townsend, told BuzzFeed News that Rebecca had checked the first two wishes off her list when she kissed her boyfriend in the rain and when she went to Spain with her family. But it was only after Rebecca’s friend came forward to describe Rebecca’s final actions that they realized she had also saved a life. Before her death, Rebecca was with her friend Benjamin Arne, also 17. Both were struck by a car driven by a 23-year-old. Although Rebecca was killed in the accident, Arne was left in “serious but stable condition,” according to NewsTimes.com. Victoria explained to BuzzFeed that when Arne got out of the hospital, he told the Townsends that Rebecca had saved his life. She recounted, “He said, ‘The last thing I remember is Rebecca pushing me and telling me to hurry up.’” Victoria said that when Rebecca’s family realized that her actions had enabled her to cross the last item from her bucket list, they saw it as “a little sign that she was OK.”

Rebecca was well loved by her family and friends, a person her sister described as “just full of love and full of kindness and compassion and charity.” Her family has set up a Facebook page in her honor, Remembering Rebecca, in which they ask people to commemorate Rebecca’s life by helping others. A post on the site explains,

Rebecca was passionate about service work and charities, constantly working to better the lives of others. For this reason, we have made this page where people can share a memory or document ways they have kept Rebecca's spirit alive by showing kindness to others. Whether paying for a meal, volunteering time, or donating to a cause, we all have the opportunity to pay it forward every day, just as Rebecca strived to do.

Now supporters are using the hashtag #RememberingRebecca to mark acts of kindness in her honor, ranging from big initiatives like organizing a virtual blood drive to small things like paying for a stranger’s Starbucks order.

Before she died, Rebecca Townsend had just graduated from Immaculate High School in Danbury, Connecticut. She planned to start college at the University of Notre Dame in the fall, where she was planning to participate in She’s The First, a charity organization that promotes access to higher education for girls in low-income countries. Rebecca had opened a She’s The First chapter in her high school and, according to the Remembering Rebecca Instagram, “was very passionate about the organization.” To honor her memory, the incoming class at Notre Dame has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to produce wristbands to sell in Rebecca’s name, the proceeds from which will go to She’s The First. They have reached their initial funding goal of 1500 dollars, and will donate any additional funds directly to She’s The First.

To find out more about Rebecca Townsend, visit Remembering Rebecca on Facebook.

Image: rememberingrebecca/Instagram