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Old 08-15-09, 05:46 AM
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Longoria Parker plays charitable hand

Web Posted: 08/13/2009 12:00 CDT
Longoria Parker plays charitable hand
By Michael Quintanilla - Express-News

Eva Longoria Parker begins her sixth television season as a desperate housewife this fall. But desperate in real life? Not a chance, the San Antonio resident says on her cell phone from the Los Angeles set of her ABC drama.

Indeed, "hopeful," "optimistic" and "thankful" are words the Desperate Housewives star uses as she enthusiastically talks about her upcoming Eva's Heroes Celebrity Casino Night fundraiser. She and her husband, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, hope the Texas Hold 'Em event, set for Sept. 12 in Helotes, will attract poker enthusiasts from across the state.

Longoria Parker (who sizzles as Gabrielle Solis on TV) is our cover girl for this month's Trends magazine, available Friday at various locations, including Central Market H-E-B and select H-E-B supermarkets, CVS pharmacy, Sun Harvest, Whole Foods and Bally's Fitness studios.

In our interview, she jokes about her poker face and dishes on her juicy television role. But it's her advocacy for mentally disabled kids and young adults — fueled by her older sister, Elizabeth, known to all as Liza (pronounced Leeza) — that she opens up about as well as another cause close to her heart: migrant farm-working children and a documentary she's producing about them.

Q: You've often said that your oldest sister, Liza, is a strong woman and the catalyst for Eva's Heroes. How does she inspire you today?

A: She just has this incredible amount of drive and liveliness and hope about her and has never seen herself as a person with a disability. She lives life to the fullest. Every day is challenging her because of the disability she has, but yet she lives it with such vitality that I've always been envious that I wish I could carry the same strength in my own life that she has proven to have in hers. So, for me, once I started Eva's Heroes, I started meeting many, many other heroes for other people — and for me. And it's been nice to use my fame and my voice to advocate for these kids, because for me they are the real celebrities, they're the real stars. They've touched my heart in a place that is so indescribable.

Q: You're talking about the strength that people with disabilities have. These kids and young adults are true survivors. Yet, sometimes people are afraid to pitch in and help out. What do you say to them?

A: You know, people think that you have to be rich and famous in order to be a philanthropist, and you don't. Your time and attention and awareness of the cause are enough to make a difference. We had over 1,000 people at Casino Night last year, and they came to have a good time, but at the same time they were helping immensely by raising enough funds to continue our programs and to continue to add more and more kids to our services.

Q: I hear Phil (Hellmuth, 11-time world champion poker player) is coming back to emcee the Texas Hold 'Em tournament. I remember how funny he was last year.

A:He's the greatest host in the world. You know, he's known as the poker brat. Poker is his world. He's been a supporter of ours for three years, and he loves San Antonio. And I'm very proud to be able to show him the San Antonio that I know and love. He comes and does this for free and out of the kindness of his heart.

Q: Who taught you to play poker?

A: You know, it's so funny — my dad was a big card player, and so I think I learned basic poker from him a long time ago. But with my first Texas Hold 'Em, I just was fascinated with it and started to learn more and more. And you know, honestly, I was really lucky to have had a coach like Phil (Hellmuth) give me some private lessons. I've had a really fun experience in my poker abilities.

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Longoria Parker plays charitable hand
"If you judge people, you don't have time to love them." -- Mother Teresa
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