Race raises money for Chesterman Clinic in Africa


CHICO, Calif. - Hundreds of runners descended on Lower Bidwell Park Sunday morning for a race to raise money to build a medical clinic in rural Africa, fulfilling a dream of a young Chico State nursing student whose life was cut short last year.

Kristina Chesterman died when she was struck by an alleged drunk driver while riding her bike home after studying last September. The man accused of causing her death, Riley Hoover, is currently awaiting trial for the crime.

Before Kristina's tragic end she laid out a list of goals she wished to accomplish, one of which was to use her nursing degree to deliver medical aid to rural Africa.

Since she's passed, her friends and family have been inspired to make her dreams a reality.

Sunday morning hundreds of runners and event volunteers gathered in the One Mile Recreation Area of Lower Bidwell Park to raise money to help build a medical clinic in the village of Ozu Abam, Nigeria.

Kristina's parents, brother and other family members put a symbolic end to the race by crossing the finish line with Susan Vieira, the woman who received Kristina's heart after her organs were donated.

"It just seems like she's here with us on a day like today," said David Chesterman, Kristina's father. "It's the first and hopefully it'll be the first annual (race). It's for a great cause with the clinic, the clinic in Africa."

The clinic, which will be called the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic, will be built alongside another constructed in 2012 called Upon This Rock Clinic.

At Sundays race was James Umekwe, a man from the tiny Nigerian village who helped to build the first clinic.

"It is helping a lot of people," Umekwe said. "People who couldn't have had any means of sustaining health-wise."

He said the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic, which will focus on serving women and children and those suffering from diabetes, will help them to serve many more.

"We envision whatever we don't have at Upon This Rock, we'll have at Kristina's clinic. So they are both going to work together," Umekwe explained.

So it is that even in death Kristina's dreams are being kept alive.

And while Kristina's heart gives one woman a second chance at life, that woman lives with Kristina's spirit.

"She has that same determination I think," Chesterman said of Vieira. "And that's going to help as we move ahead with this project, that's for sure."

To help accomplish the many goals of Kristina, a foundation has been set up in her name. More information and information on how to donate can be found on the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Foundation website.

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