Soccer legend David Beckham wrote a brief, heartbreaking post on Facebook on Oct. 24 mourning the death of Kirsty Howard, who — although suffering from major health problems since birth — spent her brief life serving others and striving to better herself. The BBC reports that Kirsty raised some £7.5 million for Francis House — a children's hospice in Manchester opened by Princess Diana, according to The Mirror — and was studying child care in college, intending to go into education for special needs children.
Kirsty Howard was born on Sept. 20, 1995, with an extremely rare medical condition: her heart was formed back to front, displacing her other organs. According to The Mirror, the condition is so rare — the odds of it are 60,000,000 to 1 — that there's no name for it and, as the BBC notes, she is one of only two known cases in the entire world.
At the age of 4 she was given just weeks to live, but she somehow beat the odds, eventually becoming the face of Francis House, where she received treatment. She went on to raise millions of pounds to save the children's hospice.
She first met David Beckham in 2001 during a World Cup qualifying match pitting England against Greece, where she served as the English national team's mascot.
She would again meet Beckham when the pair presented Queen Elizabeth with the Jubilee Baton at Manchester's Commonwealth Games in 2002.
The Mirror reports that Kirsty Howard passed away early last Thursday morning at Manchester Royal Infirmary after suffering cardiac arrest. She was surrounded by family members.