When Helen Nemer found out she'd been nominated to have a longtime wish granted, the 94-year-old lifelong Minnesota resident thought about it and decided she wanted a party with her family.
Think bigger, she was urged.
"So she said, 'You know, I'd love to meet Al Franken,' " recalled Nemer's daughter, Candy Malinoff of Mendota Heights.
Franken's office quickly obliged, and before long, boom — Saturday morning arrived with U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., stopping by Nemer's home at the Shaller Family Sholom East Campus in St. Paul.
Franken spent about two hours with Nemer and her family, first chatting privately, then mugging for the cameras.
At one point, someone put a dog named Dottie that belonged to a Franken staffer in Nemer's lap to pose with the senator. Then Franken joined Nemer and family members for a quiet lunch in the dining room.
"I think this has been one of my favorite days," Nemer told a reporter. "It was so exciting to meet Al Franken and have my family here."
During the quick news appearance, and before Dottie's arrival, Franken said he was honored that Nemer thought of meeting him when she was asked to name her biggest wish to fulfill — realistically.
"So you made a request that you thought was in the realm of possibility. So, no Paul McCartney," Franken joked. Meeting Barack Obama may also have been considered out of the realm.
Malinoff said Nemer and her family frequently talked politics around the dinner table growing up.
To this day, Nemer said she watches MSNBC every night and stays up on politics and current events. She's read Franken's books and enjoyed his career in comedy before Franken shifted to politics.
In addition to raising three kids in the Highland Park neighborhood, Nemer has volunteered for many organizations over the years, from the Red Cross to local schools and hospitals.
She even volunteered for the Sholom organization before moving into one of its newer buildings herself, just off W. 7th Street.
Sholom nominated Nemer to have her wish granted through Denver's Wish of a Lifetime Foundation.
The foundation's website says it works to fulfill seniors' long-held wishes.
Jamie Maddeaux, sales and marketing vice president with Sholom, said it was the first time the organization had worked with Wish of a Lifetime.
"I think it went very well," Maddeaux said. "Helen was beaming from ear to ear the whole time."