Eva Longoria and Her BFF Share a Passion for Helping Teens with Special Needs

InStyle's August cover girl Eva Longoria is today's InStyle.com guest editor! Check back throughout the day for exclusive articles straight from the actress, and for more from Longoria, including peeks at her feature inside the August issue, on newsstands now, visit InStyle.com/evaday. Here, the actress and her longtime friend Christiane Perkins-Garcia share funny stories of how they first met and discuss the impact of Eva's Heroes, the organization they co-founded together in 2006.

eva longoria, christiane, interview
Photo: Courtesy Photo

Eva Longoria and Christiane Perkins-Garcia, who've known each other since their Texas pageant days, share a friendship that's strengthened by a common bond. Longoria's younger sister was born premature and has a mental disability, an experience that taught the actress many lessons. Similarly, Perkins-Garcia worked as a special needs teacher before realizing there was a lack of after-school programs for these children. Their meeting of the minds led to the creation of Eva's Heroes, which now serves over 2,000 kids in the San Antonio region. The organization's mission is to help enrich the lives of teenagers and young adults with intellectual special needs through hands-on programming and frequent fundraisers. Here, the two philanthropic friends reminisce about when they first met and rhapsodize about the children who participate in Eva's Heroes.

Eva Longoria: What's your first memory of us becoming friends?
Christiane Perkins-Garcia: We were at South Padre Island in the Miss Texas USA pageant. I think we were waiting to learn choreography for our opening number. We started talking and there was just an instant amazing connection, almost like we had known each other for years!

EL: And what's your most hilarious moment with me?
CPG: Oh my goodness, I have a few! One of my favorites is the time you thought my size 7.5 foot could fit into your size 5.5 shoe! At the last minute, I was headed to an awards dinner with you and I needed to borrow a dress and shoes from you. The dress fit perfectly and you insisted your shoes would fit me because they were open-toe. You even bent down to buckle the shoes for me while you were wearing your gorgeous full-length gown! On the way to the awards dinner, we agreed the shoes were in fact too small. You quickly called a friend and asked her to buy me a pair of heels! Upon our arrival, a beautiful pair of size 7.5 shoes were handed to me in the car just before I stepped out. I was so incredibly grateful! Absolutely hilarious!

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EL: Do you have a favorite story of a life we've enriched through the program?
CPG: There are so many wonderful stories about our participants in Eva's Heroes. Just last week, while attending one of our summer camps, I witnessed our participants performing in a live theater production. It was absolutely incredible! One participant in particular was at the very front of the stage smiling, singing, and glowing with such pride. I remember years ago when she used to be so shy and very quiet. Now, not only is she singing Broadway music, she's going down the zip line in the hill country, dancing to her favorite songs in the middle of the dance floor, and cheering on her favorite San Antonio teams. The best part is that she's enjoyed all these experiences with her friends she's made at Eva's Heroes events. I've seen an amazing transformation in so many of our participants simply because they were given unique opportunities to socialize with their peers through Eva's Heroes.

For more information on the organization, visit evasheros.org

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