Homeless Beauty Queen to Compete for Miss USA Crown


Number of Homeless Families Up 9 Percent, Studies Say

Any hope Bonita had of finding a job and getting her family's finances back on track vanished as her health deteriorated. Amid all the financial and health struggles, Blair remained committed to her dream of winning Miss Colorado USA and continued to compete in pageants.

Blair said that although she had some sense that money was always getting tighter, Bonita resisted telling her just how desperate the situation had become.

"I wanted to protect Blair and David," Bonita said. "I wanted them to think that everything was just fine. I felt that they had been through way too much seeing Gary with the illness he had."

Eventually Bonita could no longer protect her children from the harsh reality of an eviction notice. "I had let my kids down. I couldn't even think straight. I was there to protect them, and here we were being put out on the street," said Bonita.

Blair scrambled to get a U-Haul truck and moved all of the family's possessions, now in garbage bags, into a storage facility. After weeks of couch-hopping and on the verge of turning to a shelter, Blair and Bonita got some good news. Family friends offered them the use of two guest rooms in their home. For now, thanks to the generosity of friends, Blair and Bonita have a roof over their heads.

After telling the directors of the Miss USA pageant that she had lost her home, Blair made the decision to go public with her story. She has spent the past several months traveling the country speaking about her experience.

"What I've learned is that there are so many in this country, especially families with children, who are unseen, who are doubled up in the homes of friends and family, who are homeless because they don't have a home of their own to go to," she said.

Recent statistics suggest that Blair Griffith's story is not as uncommon as it may seem. According to a 2010 study that looked at 27 major cities across the U.S. -- including Denver, Colo. -- there was a 9 percent increase in homeless families in the last year alone.

Just as she always has, Blair Griffith refuses to give up on her dream. On June 19 she will be in Las Vegas competing alongside 50 other women -- from the 49 other states plus the District of Columbia -- hoping to be crowned the next Miss USA.

"I would love to win, but in another way I feel like I've already won. I've been able to do so much with my title that I never could have imagined when I won back in October," she said.

And despite all the strife of the past year, Blair said that when the winner's name is called, she will not be thinking about her family's financial struggles.

"Miss USA happens on June 19, Father's Day," she said, "and my father will definitely be the number one person on my mind."

PHOTOS: See Blair Griffith through the years.

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