This year’s Fiesta will be extra special for Reddix Center student Katie Burress.
Katie, 20, won the first-ever Fiesta T-shirt art contest sponsored by Eva’s Heroes, which works to enrich the lives of people with intellectual special needs. The nonprofit organization was founded by actress Eva Longoria and Christiane Perkins-Garcia, a former NISD special education teacher.
Everyone who rides on the Eva’s Heroes barge during the Texas Cavaliers River Parade April 11 will wear a T-shirt printed with Katie’s artwork, and Katie will get to ride on the barge.
“That’s pretty cool,” Katie said, after representatives from Eva’s Heroes surprised her at school last week with the announcement of her win. Longoria could not attend the presentation but sent a video message to Katie to congratulate her.
Longoria is serving as the grand marshal of this year’s River Parade. To honor Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Eva’s Heroes solicited contest entries from all over the city in March, Perkins-Garcia said. A panel of community members selected the winner.
Katie said her artwork was inspired by Disneyland.
“All children love it and all adults love it,” she said.
Her piece also includes a drawing of a girl in a wheelchair.
“She’s a beautiful butterfly and she’s dreaming of flying to Walt Disney,” Katie said.
Since she graduated from O’Connor High School, Katie has been attending school at the Reddix Center, which provides vocational training for special needs students.
Katie completed her award-winning artwork in less than 12 hours, said her teacher, Colleen Taubert.
“She’s a very good artist,” Taubert said.
Katie has always had exceptional artistic ability, said her parents, Bill and Patricia Burress. Still, they were surprised when they learned she had won the Eva’s Heroes art contest.
“I know she’s more than capable,” her father said. “I’m very proud of her. We’ve always been very proud of her.”