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Area’s generous spirit helps a grieving family

I left Buffalo 20 years ago for California. The hardest part was leaving my family and friends, and losing that sense of community. Recently I was reminded of just how great Buffalonians are. I’m writing in honor of the great people who have rallied behind strangers from 3,000 miles away. It’s a story of humanity at its finest, and no surprise that it stems from my hometown.

This week, the family of Kristina Chesterman of Livermore, Calif., was generously granted a meaningful, healing trip to Buffalo and Niagara Falls thanks to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Delaware North Cos. and Niagara Tourism.

Kristina was a young nursing student from Northern California whose life was snuffed out much too early. While biking home from school, her life was lost at the hands of a drunken driver. Kristina was not only studying to be a nurse – a very giving trade – but had also decided to be an organ donor. In the process of losing her life she saved many – a baby boy received her liver, a family friend a kidney, a woman her heart and others.

While sorting through her personal effects, her mom stumbled upon Kristina’s bucket list. It was full of simple things, such as running through a poppy field. It also included a wish to see Niagara Falls. Shortly thereafter, her family and friends committed to fulfilling her list.

Here’s where the Buffalo spirit comes in, and magic began to happen. After learning of Kristina’s story, the good people of Western New York came together to provide her family with airfare, lodging and, most importantly, a special tour of the falls.

Carm Lyman

Napa, Calif.