When she was 12-years-old, Krystle Wheeler’s mother handed her money and a bus pass and told her to go have fun at the mall. “I am the oldest of five children,” laughed Krystle. “I think she just needed to get one of us out of the house. But I’ve have been riding the bus ever since.”
Now 26, Krystle is a student at Crafton Hills College where she is studying speech communication with a minor in math. Her plan is to earn a Masters of Divinity degree and become a United Methodist pastor. The process requires approximately 7 years of study, and applicants must also pass a credit check, criminal background check, a 3-part psychological exam and a written doctrine exam. Krystle is undaunted by the prospect.
“I really feel this is what I need to be doing with my life right now,” said Krystle. “I had taken a break from school for about 5 years. When I started up again last August, Omnitrans had started the Go Smart Program which allowed me to ride the bus for free with my student ID. I took it as a sign that this I where I needed to be. When I was going to school before, there were times I would panic because I didn’t have money for bus fare that week and had to stay home from class until I could afford it. Now I know I can go every day.”
About four years ago, Omnitrans played another important role in Krystle’s life when she decided to donate one of her kidneys to a total stranger. “I was listening to a Pro-Wrestling show on the Internet and heard about a wrestler who needed a kidney. I began researching how many people in this country need a kidney each year and found the numbers ranged in the tens of thousands. I knew I wanted to help and contacted the National Kidney Registry to find out how I could donate one of my own kidneys. I used Omnitrans to get to all the doctor’s appointments to get my bloodwork and preliminary testing done. I even rode Omnitrans to the Greyhound station so I could get to Scripps Hospital in San Diego where the surgery was performed.”
Krystle spent two days in the hospital and was off pain meds after two weeks. She doesn’t know who the woman is who received her kidney, but is happy that she was able to make a difference and would do it again if she could. Does she worry about what will happen to her if her remaining kidney becomes damaged? “Not at all,” says Krystle. “I would do it again if I could. I’m in excellent health. Generally kidney donors are in better shape than most of the population because of the extensive testing they have to pass. And in the rare instance where a donor has a problem with a remaining kidney, they get moved to the top of the donor list.”
Omnitrans has been with Krystle through every important stage of her life from her first mall excursion as a child to reaching out to save a stranger’s life to returning to school to pursue divinity studies. She encourages more people to take advantage of public transit and offers these words of advice to new riders. “Be safe, be aware of your surroundings, but enjoy the ride. I can’t think of anywhere else you can pay $4 to go everywhere you want to for an entire day.”
- Juno Kughler Carlson
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