Wendi Russo 

A Partial listing of Appearances follows.  Go to www.mrsminnesota2008.blogspot.com for all appearances

March 31, 2009 "Can Can Show" Guest at the Children's Hospital of MN

Me and "The Dude", the host of the weekly TV show broadcast to both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Children's Hospitals.  Our topic this week was "Helping Others" and I spoke to the kids about being in a pageant, helping people in the community, mentoring and read them "The Giving Tree", one of my favorite books, growing up!  Kids called in to ask questions and then I taught the Dude how to walk and pose and asked him a "final question" which was "How do you define Integrity?"  He did a great job and accepted his crown graciously!! Reality hit me of where I was when Child Life came with a puppet that helps the children to see what is inside them when they have surgery and where the needles go in their arms.  The kids learned about tumors and losing their hair with the doll and I thought how brave they all were.

My Girl Scouts TV Commercial promoting the Cookie Creations Fundraiser in Rochester

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Girl Scouts of MN Cookie Creations Fundraiser,  March 26th in Rochester

I was one of the celebrity judges for the Girl Scout Fundraiser, the Cookie creations Food Tasting.  Local Restaurant Chefs compete for the best dishes and drinks prepared using Girl Scout cookies.  A fun and yummy event!  Delicious Baby Back Ribs made by Roscoe's chef won the People's Choice award as well as the Grand Prize from all 5 judges!   The Entree winner was Caramel Chipotle Shrimp, the People's Choice award for essert was Dulce de Banana Crunch Ice cream and my favorite drink was the winner, White chocolate Mint Martini!!

Other judges included ABC 7 News Anchor Ericka Miller, Retired Green Bay Packer, Darrell Thompson, Post Bulletin writer Greg Sellnow, Nick Inch from the Minnesota Swarm and Joyce Gibbs, Civil Rights Activist.

March 14, 2009 Kinship of Greater Minneapolis Volunteer Recognition Banquet

All volunteers, mentors and speakers were recognized today at Kinship's Recognition Banquet.  All the boys and girls wanted autographs and photos with me because today was a "hero" theme.  For many, a princess is a hero to be looked up to--many of the kids said they wanted to be a princess when they grew up.  My mentee, Tyiteana is on the far right. 

Hands on Twin Cities Volunteer Expo--February 21, 2009

This event was meant to inspire people to "Be the Change" in Minnesota by volunteering in their community.  Over 50 leading volunteer organizations were lined up in the halls of the Mall of America.  I represented Kinship of Greater Minneapolis and recruited many mentors today!

Working at the Hands on Twin Cities at the Kinship Booth

With Miss Twin Cities America, Brooke Kilgarriff

Rochester Rotary Club with Aliza Rongstad from the Girl Scouts of MN

February 2009

Today we shot the PSA for the upcoming Cookie Creations Fundraiser for the Girl Scouts of MN with Channel 6 and then went to their local radio station to record the voice over for their radio ad which is really cute!  Aliza is helping to plan this fundraiser in Rochest for March.  Aliza then took me to the Rochester Rotary Club for their weekly meeting.  Attendance was 100 strong at this member/guest luncheon!

34th Red Bull Infantry National Guard Division Departure Ceremony 

February 10, 2009  5-9pm  St. Paul, Minnesota

The most humbling event I've attended yet.  6,000 of our men and women were deployed to Iraq and the ceremony featured our senators and House Of Representatives wishing them well and thanking them for their service.  At the dinner, I walked around the room and shook over 100 hands of soldiers, thanking them on behalf of the wives and mothers of Minnesota.  I met 2 four star generals: General John W. Vessey Jr. from the Army and General Craig R. McKinley.    The hospitality I received was incredible and I could tell our men and women and families really appreciated my presence at their event.


Paul Monteen (MN State chair for ESGR) and Mr. Denny Schulstad (the immediate past MM State chairman for ESGR)

The National Patriot Guards were also there to honor our soldiers.


Soldiers from Wisconsin


Wendi is being honored by the Minnesota Swarm February 7th at 6pm with Tyiteana, her mentee for being an Unsung Hero in Minnesota

What an honor to be nominated as an Unsung Hero for my mentoring work.  Tyiteana is so excited to be a part of this event and will be brought out onto the field to take pics with a few team members.  All attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about Kinship since we will have a table set up during half time.  Wendi will be signing autographs and taking pictures at half time.

We are with the Minnesota Swarm Cheerleaders at the Excel Energy Center


Counting the money with my Dealer, Brad, who helped me figure out BlackJack dealing!

Pay it Forward Breast Cancer Casino Night Fundraiser  : 5:30pm silent auction, 7pm dinner : February 6th

I was a celebrity dealer for Blackjack at this fantastic Medina annual fundraiser. Pay It forward helps support women with Breast Cancer with their basic necessities while they focus on getting well.  Because it coincides with National Wear Red Day to create more awareness for Women's Heart disease, I wore a beautiful red, off the shoulder gown from Michael's  Pageant Shop in New Brighton, MN. I sat with Lori and Julia from 107.1FM and also in attendance were Miss MN International '08 and Miss Mn America '08 Angie both looking gorgeous!!

Manning the Big Brothers Big Sisters Table with Mike, head of volunteers at the St. Paul Winter Carnival


St. Paul Winter Carnival:  January 24th

Sitting atop an ice throne!  It's cold but fun seeing all of the ice sculptures!  Tonight there was a competition for the girl who will jump during the next few year's parades.  I never knew it was such a big event!  The winning sculpture was a quite beautiful 3 dimensional sculpture of dolphins jumping.

Celebrity Bell Ringing at Southdale Mall in Edina December 19th

So Many fun characters were ringing their bells for the Salvation Army at Southdale Mall today.  Surrounded by Star wars villains, spiderman, Superman, The Vikings Cheerleaders and 2 Klondike Kate's singing Christmas Carols and wearing vibrant red dresses and feather hats and boas!

The Klondike Kate gals from the St. Paul Winter Carnival


Art Gallery Exhibit to Benefit Kinship in Excelsior's Wilcock Gallery
December 4, 2008

Ashley Dull is a very talented young artist who attributes her success to the mentors in her life who helped her through tough times.    She donated 10% of her sales toward matches for Kinship of Greater Minneapolis. 

Bell Ringing at the Grand Meander for the Salvation Army in Front of Kowalski's   December 7th

At 9 degrees above zero I was glad to be wearing my Cedric's full length mink coat but I definitely should have worn Ugg's instead of high heeled boots!!  One hour of bell ringing raised a lot of money for the Salvation Army and I met a lot of generous folks who appreciated seeing Mrs. Minnesota brave the cold!

Rockin Santa Fashion Show in Excelsior  December 6th

All the fashion retailers modelled their fashions for a full house at Jake's Restaurant in Excelsior---with me modelling for Amore and Fede in a fabulous crown t shirt and a cedric's fur coat!!  Santa and Mrs. Claus were featured at Amore and Fede!!

All the models and me before the fashion show


Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Teen USA Pageant November 2008

Kaylee Ungerzaghtz crowned Erica Negro as Miss MN USA and Sara Sprayberry crowned the beautiful Vanessa Johnston as Miss Teen USA!  Congratulations! They were both my choice during the pageant!

Excelsior Outdoor Christmas Mart  November 29th

The only outdoor Christmas event in Minnesota was replete with a trolley ride with Santa, Mulled wine, Christmas decorations, carolers and lots of tasty treats!!  Even Rudolph paid a visit!   Natalie Hagemo and I toured and tasted each vendors' wares and had a ball meeting an authentic-looking Santa! 

November 29th at 10am -Art Gallery show with Ashely Dull of Minnetonka --to benefit Kinship

Wilcock Gallery in Excelsior on Main St.“Giving Thanks” will showcase a variety of her landscape and nature paintings.

A portion of all sales of original works and prints during the show will be donated to Kinship of Greater Minneapolis.  Many mentors in Dull's life have contributed to her success.  "Giving Thanks" will showcase a variety of her landscape and nature paintings, a portion of the sales will be donated to Kinship of Greater Minneapolis.

I will be there to answer any questions about mentoring and Kinship.


Walk and Pose Bootcamp in Chanhassen November 25th 6-8pm

Chanhassen Ballroom: 550 Market St. Chanhassen to benefit ICA Food Shelf. Please bring non perishable food items!!  Learn to walk and pose with Wendi Russo, Mrs Miinnesota 208 and Season 5 Top Model Runway  winner. 

Twin Cities Chocolate Extravaganza to Benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation

November 16, 2008 All Day

Leisha Gust, Mrs. Minnesota International and I at the fundraiser.  Leisha was the MC for the raffle which helps to raise $10,000 for children's wishes across the state.  I won one of the raffle prizes --a cookbook!!  The fashion show was amazing! The clothing looked like chocolate and was actually made with pieces of chocolate! My favorite design is below...doesn't it look edible?

Grand Opening of Santorini's in Eden Prairie and Fundraiser for MN Landscape Arboretum November 15, 2008  6-9pm


Me and Mrs. MN 2007, Bessie Giannakakis

The Ultimate Pajama Party for Diva MN
November 14th 6-9pm @ Graves 601 Hotel

Featuring Belladiva & the Hey Sugar Dancers-proceeds benefit women's & childrens' HIV/AIDS programs in MN, to learn more, go to www.divamn.org

Me with Lori and Julia from 107.1 FM Living out Loud

I helped host and announced the raffle winners and had so much fun dancing with Bella Diva and talking with all of the ladies and gents in pajamas!


Co-Host of Club Diva Minnesota AIDS Benefit

March 8, 2008 at 5:30pm--International Market Square Minneapolis

Wendi co-hosted this silent auction, fashion show and AIDS awareness event with fellow Shop NBC host, Brian Kessler.   Brian and Wendi also interviewed attendees at the front door about their fashions and their passions for AIDS awareness & prevention....photos by Sophia Hantzes

DIVA MN is a nonprofit grant-making organization composed of individuals who work in creative industries and are committed to raising money to impact HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. Since 1986, DIVA MN has granted more than $3 million throughout Minnesota for innovative programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and treat those living with the disease.

Wendi, Brian Kessler & Connie Kunkle

photo by Sophia Hantzes

Wendi & Brian interviewing attendees on the red carpet

photo by Sophia Hantzes

Other Charities Wendi Supports:

Calvary Kidstuff Christmas Toy Drive Donor

People Reaching out to People (PROP) in Eden Prairie Donor

Feed the Children Volunteer

Families Moving Forward Volunteer--helping homeless families transition

Diva Minnesota for HIV/AIDS Awareness in MN Volunteer & Co-Host

Smile Network Donor

Eden Prairie Foundation Ball Donor

Hope Walks Fundraiser--June 29th, 2008 to benefit orphans with AIDS in Africa

Susan B. Koman Walk for Breast Cancer

Big Brothers Big Sisters Fundraiser

Kinship of Greater Minneapolis Silent Auction Donor

Cornerstone Women's Battered Shelter and The Dwelling Place Shelter

Charitable Events:
Children's Cancer Research Fund Dawn of a Dream Gala Nov. 3, 2007
Celebrity Waiters Dinner for Cerebral Palsy- Donor
Diva Date Auction Feb. 21st --auctioned off image consulting to lucky winner!

Big Brothers Big Sisters Fundraiser "Nile of the Valley"--Shop NBC and I donated diamond earrings that were auctioned and raised more than the retail value!


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