DENVER - It's hard to take your eyes off of her. The reigning Miss Colorado USA Blair Griffith is an undeniably beautiful young woman. From appearances, it would seem as though she has everything, but there's one thing the 23-year-old doesn't have: a home.
"It was a difficult thing to go through to sit there and go, 'Where are we going to go now,'" Griffith said of the fact that she and her mother, Bonita, were evicted from their home in November of last year.
It was just one month after Blair won the title of 2011 Miss Colorado USA.
A series of life challenges led the Morrison native to her current situation. Now, for the first time, she is ready to share her story.
"I hope that people will see this and realize, 'Wow, she is a real person,' or 'Hey, I didn't think there was someone out there going through something similar as me,'" Griffith said.
Griffith's interest in pageants began with a tragedy.
"When I was in eighth grade, my father became very sick all of a sudden," she said.
Her father, Gary Griffith, was the one who had encouraged a then-tomboy Blair to enter beauty pageants. Doctors discovered that Gary Griffith had pancreatic cancer. He died one year later.
"I was sad. But I said, 'I can't spend my time being so sad about it because I know my dad,'" Blair Griffith said. "He wanted to see so much out of me."
That desire encouraged her to enter her first pageant, competing for the title of Miss Colorado Teen USA. She won in 2006 on her fourth try.
"I cried because I wish that he could've been there to see it," she said.
Griffith's next challenge came when her mother had a heart attack three years ago. The health scare, which led to major surgery, also took a toll on the family's finances.
"Financially, it became difficult for us. The home that we were in, we became evicted from [it] in November of last year," Griffith, a magna cum laude graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado, said.
She had just been named Miss Colorado USA weeks earlier on Oct. 31.
Griffith says her unfortunate experience has given her a new topic to discuss when she makes appearances at various schools and events.
"[People] are going to look and say. 'OK, if she can be Miss Colorado USA and have all this going on in her life and still be focused on her goals and dreams... then I can too,'" Griffith said.
Another challenge that lots of Coloradans can relate to: losing their jobs. Griffith is experiencing that too. She currently works at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center location of Saks Fifth Avenue, which is closing in March.
"I was telling my mother the other day, 'You know, what would be really shocking? To hear great news,'" she joked. "It seems to happen once a month. Something new is being thrown at me."