Eva's Heroes celebrating 10th anniversary

Year-long traveling exhibit features "Heroes" portraits

SAN ANTONIO – Eva’s Heroes, the namesake of actress and benefactor Eva Longoria, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a yearlong traveling photo exhibit featuring many of the "heroes" it serves, children and young people with intellectual special needs.

Titled “See Us. Hear US. Know US,” the exhibit has 59 portraits by photographer David Teran.
Having never photographed anyone with special needs, Teran called the three-day shoot “a once-in-a-lifetime project.”

“They weren’t just another face, another name. They were unique,” Teran said.
He said, “I just tried to make to make them comfortable and make them realize they’re beautiful, just the way they were.

“They have such an innocent heart,” Teran added, along with a natural sense of joy and happiness.

Seeing her daughter Jessie being pampered by a hairdresser and makeup artist, and her happy-go-lucky spirit come alive before the camera, “made my heart smile,” said her mother Ludy Castaneda.

She said the photo exhibit will be a learning opportunity for others who have little knowledge of special needs individuals.

Castaneda said it can be painful to watch her daughter be ostracized or see people shy away from her because they don’t understand her manner of speech.

Shawne Zakaria, executive director of Eva’s Heroes, said she hopes the portraits and their life stories will teach others tolerance and acceptance.

Zakaria said, “We need this entire community to wrap their arms around not just Eva’s Heroes, but also anyone that has intellectual special needs or any disability in which they may be different.”

In her daughter’s case, Castaneda said, “As long as Jessie is here, we will always have Santa. Doesn’t matter how old she gets. There will always be Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

There will be a private unveiling Tuesday evening for families and sponsors. Zakaria said the traveling exhibit then will be on display at more than 50 venues around the community through December, beginning with the Family Service Association on April 18.