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Remembering Jacob Quam: The story behind Coffee 33

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BATTLE LAKE, Minn.—When Ashley Ladwig of Vining, Minnesota starts her senior year of high school this fall, she will have a summer vacation story to tell all her friends.

One of business success and remembrance.

In just her second week of business, Ashley Ladwig and her Coffee 33 shop opened bright and early today, to the sound of thunder and lightning.

In the heart of Otter Tail County lake country, Ashley and her remodeled camper, have found a home just off busy Highway 210 in Battle Lake.

Ashley is fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning her own business. Coffee and smoothies. She worked to get here.

"I was waitressing for three years and I saved all my tips and money there, " Ashley said.

This spring, Ashley went on Craigslist, and found her dream camper. It was run down and worn out.

"It was so bad. The walls were all good but the floors were like grandma flooring, it was ugly," Ashley said.

Her hard working farm family helped clean it up, and gut it out.

"My dad did not want to gut it out, he went in there with a crow bar and said we are going to be gentle, I went in there a couple minutes later and he was swinging the sledgehammer and I asked, what happened to not wrecking anything," Ashley said.

Ashley went to barista training and now is a week into her own business, and with some dedicated customers.

"I have two fishermen who come everyday, they get the same drink, their favorite," she said.

And when those customers ask about the name of her business, Coffee 33,

"This is his basketball number, the name of my camper. And on my back, says give life, be a donor," Ashley said.

She is more than willing to share her story, about her classmate, good friend, and prom date Jacob Quam.

Quam died in a crash just over a year ago, just a mile from Ashley's farm, near Vining.

His basketball number was 33, now the name of her coffee shop.

"I wanted to honor him in that way and and bring him with me here, and when i tell his story it makes me happy," she said.

If Jacob's death taught Ashley and the rest of her senior class anything, it is to have passion.

In a cozy, coffee camper this summer, Ashley has found hers.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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