COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Christy Meador lost her husband and daughter's father, Sgt. John Meador last month in Afghanistan.
"I think about him constantly," she said. "I talk to him everyday. When I put her down at night I tell him to watch over her and us."
She says most days she thinks he's still in Afghanistan with his unit. But when they return in a few months, she knows John won't be with them.
He was one of three South Carolina National Guardsmen killed in a suicide bombing last month.
"It's just going to be tough," she said.
Christy's friend Cindy Clough thought of an idea to ease the burden.
"This was personal," said Clough. "I just know how hard it must be for her to go through."
Clough created the Miss Stars and Stripes Forever Pageant that was held Saturday in Columbia.
More than 50 contestants strutted across the stage at the Clarion Hotel. The event also featured a silent auction.
"This is a really great cause and I'm so glad to support the Meador family," said contestant Mary Carlline Owen.
"It kind of hit home for me because my husband is also in the army," said contestant Erica Ricard. "As an army wife, I felt I needed to do whatever I could to support this family."
Some boys participated too. Each contestant won a trophy, sash or prize.
Christy Meador was overwhelmed by the support.
"People I don't even know showing up left and right," she said. "Whether here to participate or to donate an item. Cards, prayers are what's getting me through everyday."
"I thank you all," she said.
On Sunday, a fundraiser for Meador's family is from 1-8 p.m. at the Big Ugly in the Vista in Columbia.