Television viewers are accustomed to seeing Eva Longoria as a desperate housewife searching for happiness in all the wrong places. But during her recent visit to a local pediatric cancer center, fans became privy to the person behind the glamour.
As the first national spokesperson for PADRES, Longoria, who plays the role of Gabrielle Solis in the hit primetime ABC series Desperate Housewives visited with some of the PADRES' children and families at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Dressed in jeans, a pink short blazer, her long hair pulled back in a ponytail, she quietly walked through the hospital halls, greeting children and hugging parents. As she sat next to a two-year-old girl hospitalized for an infection following treatment for a brain tumor, the toddler's mother began crying. With heart-felt empathy, Longoria tenderly assured the mother that her strength is unbreakable. She later chatted with an 11-year-old boy with lymphoma, who was going home after almost two weeks in the hospital. His upbeat joy and laughter in the face of hardship left an indelible impression on the young actress.
"I'm blessed to be a part of PADRES," Longoria says. "Being with these children was the highlight of my month. They have so much energy and enthusiasm. They appreciate the very breath that they take, reminding me of the importance of taking life day by day."
Longoria, recently voted by Variety as one of the "Ten New Faces to Watch" this Fall and one of People en Espanol's "25 Most Beautiful People," spent two afternoons at the hospital, visiting with two dozen families whose lives have forever changed. As she holds two-year-old Alexandria Endrenal, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year, the dynamic actress shares her desire to use her celebrity status to create a greater awareness and understanding for the plight of Latino children living with cancer.
"I've experienced cancer with older relatives and I've seen their pain and suffering," says Longoria. "I can only imagine how hard it must be for a child. Latino families, because of social, economic and cultural barriers don't always have access to all the resources available. That's what attracted me to PADRES -- together we can break those barriers, so no child or family suffers alone."
"My wish is for PADRES to become a nationally recognized organization attracting sponsors, donations and support from all communities, not only our own, to join in the battle against cancer," Longoria says. "When these children see me on TV, I want them to know that there is an organization devoted just to them and that they have hope."