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How a Miss Colorado beauty queen ended up homeless
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There are 2.5 million homeless kids in the U.S., or one in every 30 children, according to Homeless Children America. That number has been on the rise steadily since 2006. Most of these children are invisible because they are not actually on the street. - photo by Lane Anderson
Former beauty queen Blair Griffith grew up in an affluent family, but that changed quickly when her father died of prostate cancer when she was 15.

Her father had been the family's breadwinner, and her mother, now a single parent, became so overwhelmed that she had a heart attack. Because the insurance company deemed the attack a result of a "pre-existing condition," the family had to pay as much as $500 a week for medication.

Eventually, the family was evicted. This happened shortly after Griffith won the title of Miss Colorado in 2011, so Griffith led a "double life" pretending everything was perfect, she told Huffington Post in a report Thursday, in which she speaks out to raise awareness for homeless families and children.

"Everything had to seem perfect on the outside, but inside going home -- or not going home at night, wondering, 'Where am I going to sleep tonight?' or 'What am I going to do next?'" Griffith said.

There are 2.5 million homeless kids in the U.S., or one in every 30 children, according to Homeless Children America. That number has been on the rise steadily since 2006. Most of these children are invisible because they are not actually on the street. Most of them -- an estimated 75 percent according to the Education Department -- live with relatives or friends. The rest live in motels, shelters, abandoned buildings, cars, campgrounds, parks, and public spaces.

Many homeless children hide the facts of their living situations from teachers, friends, and outsiders because of stigma and shame, Griffith said. But, though she was ashamed at first, she has now joined the Start From Here campaign to help end youth homelessness.

"I was embarrassed to let anyone know what was going on with me, but people need to understand what's happening, and we need to bring this to the forefront."

The Start From Here organization shares true stories of homeless youth, and is raising money for services and opportunities for homeless youth by providing clothes and nutrition, secure housing, mental health support, and education and employment opportunities.

"I have met a lot of youth that have the same ideas and desires as other kids, they want to contribute to society," said Griffith. "It's important to hear stories like mine, of coming through hardship and finding success, so they know it's a possible solution."