#AmazingIs Stories, Mighty Blog

Minneapolis girls see marathon as chance to help others

Members of the Team Superstars charity endurance team aren’t the only ones to use the Twin Cities Marathon as a chance to give back to the kids of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. A pair of Minneapolis girls found a blister-free way to make an impact on race day.

This fall, Alessandra Courbois, 13, and Ava Dennewill, 12, staffed a treat stand loaded with coffee, hot chocolate, hot cider, banana bread and pumpkin bread, near the 8-mile mark of the course by the Hennepin County Library. All proceeds from the stand – including tips – go toward buying items on the wish list at Children’s Minnesota. At the Oct. 4 race, the girls collected $150.

Alessandra started the stand in 2011 as a place for race spectators to buy coffee and hot chocolate; Ava first helped in 2013 and again this year. Alessandra and her family chose Children’s Minnesota as the donation recipient because she was born at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, which is across the street from Children’s – Minneapolis.

“For me, I’m really afraid of shots,” Alessandra said. “Just thinking about one little shot, it doesn’t really compare to what some kids have to go through to get better.”

Ava Dennewill

“If you think about how some kids in the hospital feel, it feels good to give them stuff they can enjoy. If you were in the hospital, you’d probably want something to cheer you up as well.”

Ava Dennewill




Both seventh-graders – Alessandra at Anthony Middle School and Ava at Carondelet Catholic School – the girls have been friends since birth. Their moms, Jill DeSanto and Kristin Dennewill, both are from Minnesota and attended the same graduate school in Arizona before meeting each other in France, where Jill hired Kristin as an intern while working at AT&T in 1996.

Early on in Alessandra and Ava’s lives, they were taught about the importance of philanthropy. In addition to donating to Children’s Minnesota, the girls also have been a part of giving projects involving Waite House, Girl Scouts, Feed My Starving Children, We Day, and Gracie’s Room.

“We get a lot of people that say it’s good that we’re doing this, that it’s a nice thing to do,” said Alessandra.

Alessandra Courbois

“We get a lot of people that say it’s good that we’re doing this, that it’s a nice thing to do.”

Alessandra Courbois




So, what’s the plan for next year?

Supply more coffee.

And maybe bells for spectators. At this year’s race, one patron told the girls that if they could find a bell, he would buy it for $20. They succeeded in their mission with the help of another generous spectator, and the man bought the bell for $20.

Are any plans to expand on the horizon?

“I know that some of our friends would like to help,” Alessandra said.

“We could possibly add a second site,” Ava said. As far as how long the girls plan to run a marathon-day treat stand? “As many times as we can.”



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