LIVERMORE -- When she was still in high school, Kristina Chesterman wrote out her bucket list. Flying a plane was on it; so was running through a poppy field and breaking up a fight between two boys over her affections. She also wanted to save a life.
The aspiring nurse's ambitions came to a halt in September, when she was killed by a suspected drunken driver near Chico State, where she attended school.
Though Chesterman, 21, didn't get to mark much off her list, she has saved more lives than she hoped -- and is profoundly affecting many others. Five Northern Californians have been saved through Kristina's choice to donate her organs. And her grateful friends and family are making the rest of her bucket list their own.
Chesterman's mother, Sandra, of Livermore, said her daughter wanted to help people from an early age. She routinely gave blood and, at age 18, registered as an organ donor, because -- as the young woman explained to her mom -- "it's the right thing to do."
"I know she would've been so proud," Sandra Chesterman said of her daughter's legacy. "It hasn't been an easy process for us, but at the same time, it's brought us so much comfort."
Comfort came from the family of Jayden Kirby, of Fremont, who might have died as an infant had he not received a part of Kristina Chesterman's liver. Jayden's mother, Christine, figured out the name of the mystery donor after hearing news reports, and she connected with the Chestermans through Facebook. On Feb. 9, Sandra Chesterman, director of the Livermore Homeless Refuge, and her husband, Dave, met with the Kirbys in Fremont to celebrate Jayden's first birthday.
"I wanted her to see the impact Kristina had," Christine Kirby said. "(The transplant) absolutely saved (Jayden's) life."
Jayden's grandmother Ana Martinez, who wears a pink bracelet honoring Kristina Chesterman, considers the young woman their "guardian angel."
"I believe Kristina was here to really make an impact, and that goodness will ripple forever," she said.
Chesterman also saved Sakariah "Zak" Pappachan, a Fremont resident who is overcoming renal failure thanks to her kidney. Pappachan and his wife, Angela, attended the same church as Chesterman's aunt, Patricia Picard. Immediately after Chesterman's death, Picard texted the couple, asking if Zak Pappachan was a match. Within hours, he had his new kidney.
Now he is enjoying being a dad to his young daughter, RayeAnn, and is advocating for organ donation.
The Pappachans, who are making a memorial to Chesterman in their backyard, have grown close to the Chesterman family since the transplant. Angela sang at Kristina's funeral, and the two families spent Christmas Eve together at church.
"It's given me a different perspective and (taught me) to be grateful that a miracle happened," Zak Pappachan said. "(Kristina's) saved so many people's lives. No matter what I go through, I have to be thankful for Kristina."
Three others also share Chesterman's organs. A Northern California man, 42, received her kidney and pancreas. The rest of her liver went to a San Francisco man, and her heart still beats inside an unidentified 63-year-old woman from the South Bay, whom Sandra Chesterman hopes to meet someday.
For the Chestermans, the community created with the Pappachans and Kirbys has helped them deal with a nightmarish year. In February 2013, son Daniel was brutally beaten while visiting Kristina in Chico. After multiple surgeries, he still lacks feeling on the left side of his face.
Daniel Chesterman's attacker will be sentenced for felony assault in early March. About the same time, a preliminary hearing begins for Riley Dean Hoover, the 19-year-old charged with felony DUI and hit-and-run in Kristina Chesterman's death.
While the wheels of justice turn, Kristina Chesterman's impact continues to build. Her friends and family have taken on her bucket list, and it is inspiring even more good works. Chico State's Kristina Chesterman Memorial Nursing Scholarship has raised more than $30,000, and -- prompted by Chesterman's desire to join Doctors Without Borders -- fellow nursing students are raising money for a medical clinic to be built in her name in Nigeria. They hope to break ground this summer.
Bridget Kline, of Livermore, built up the courage to go sky diving over the ocean near San Diego, knowing it would've meant a lot to Chesterman.
"It was so cool to do one of the crazy activities she never got to do," Kline said. "I was terrified, but I thought about her and it was comforting. ... It was like I had a friend with me."
Longtime Chesterman family friend and neighbor Chris Leslie brought a photo of Kristina with him on a first-class flight to Japan -- meeting her goal to fly posh -- and will do so again on an upcoming trip to Paris.
"It's not quite the same, but she'll be in first class with me," Leslie said. "You wonder why someone like that is taken so young, but I believe Kristina was one of those very rare people who was so complete as a person already. ... The rest of us are just a work in progress."
In powerful ways, though not how she would've imagined, Sandra Chesterman thinks her daughter is still fulfilling her destiny.
"I have gotten so many signs from Kristina that give me inspiration," she said. "I know she's doing whatever she can to lead us in the right direction."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
Currently, 11 million Californians are registered as organ donors, roughly 38 percent of the eligible population, according to the California Transplant Donor Network. Last year, 3,200 life-saving transplants were performed in the state; of those, about 600 were from living donors.
To find out more about registering as an organ donor, go to www.donatelifecalifornia.org. To donate to the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Foundation, go to www.kristinachesterman.org. Chesterman's memorial group Facebook page is www.facebook.com/groups/402952633166178.
KRISTINA'S BUCKET LIST:
The list reads: