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Eva Longoria will always remember the day she was able to help her sister, Liza, knock off an item off her bucket list.
It happened in 2015, when Pope Francis visited President Obama at the White House.
“I was working for the Obama administration during that time,” Longoria said on the Paley Center for Media’s Paley Front Row series. “I was part of the reelection campaign, and I was on the Latino Museum Commission, so I got an invitation to be there when Pope Francis visited, and I was like, ‘I have to bring Liza! Oh my God.’”
The Desperate Housewives alum knew that her elder sister, who was born with an intellectual disability, wanted to meet the pope more than anyone else in the world. Longoria had asked her that question straight-up about a year before the encounter.
“I was hoping she’d say George Clooney or, like, Brad Pitt, cause I don’t even know if I could have swung that, but at least that was a little more realistic,” the activist said. “I could’ve called a publicist ... [but] she goes, ‘I want to meet the pope,’ and I said, ‘Oh, God.’ That’s hard!”
Cut to Longoria landing an invite to the White House for that papal visit. The sisters encountered strict security and a long line of other dignitaries. The actress said she worried that her sister would lose her energy by the time the pope made his appearance.
At one point, Longoria asked her sister what she would tell the pope if she had the chance.
“And she said, ‘I want to ask him to heal me,’” Longoria said, tearing up. “I said, ‘You are perfect the way you are.’”
The touching answer had been unexpected.
“I was just recording her, and I was like, ‘Liza what are you gonna do when you get to Disneyland?’” Longoria said. “That’s what I thought the question was, and she punched me in the stomach with that answer.”
Longoria added that Liza is “a special one” who will “break your heart every day.”
In November 2007, Longoria told Parade that she’d looked up to her sister since they were kids.
“She was my hero growing up,” Longoria explained. “It was a blessing to watch her overcome every obstacle — tying her shoes, putting on a shirt, getting out the front door. And yet she still had a job and would come home on the bus by herself and help with dinner. You could only imagine the hurdles she encountered every minute of the day.”
Because of her experiences with Liza, Longoria was inspired to co-found the nonprofit organization Eva’s Heroes, focused on “enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual special needs” in 2006.
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