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Military widows to walk the runway Friday

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Herald/CATRINA RAWSON

Jennifer Warner, of Killeen and a Gold Star spouse, holds a dress she tried on Friday, March 7, 2014, at Dillard's in Killeen while looking for a dress to wear in a fashion show in support of the American Widow Project. The fashion show is Friday, March 21, 2014.

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Angela Garcia’s husband died in Iraq nearly three years ago, but she still volunteers for his former unit’s family readiness group. A few months ago, she stepped up as co-leader.

“It helps me,” she said. “It keeps me sane.”

When her husband, Staff Sgt. Christian Garcia, was killed by indirect fire in April 2011, she said it took time, but she eventually found the strength from her five children, her husband’s soldiers and her volunteer work, to keep herself moving forward.

When Garcia meets with families of the Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, she emphasizes how important knowledge is — especially when a spouse is deployed.

“I tell them it’s important to be at (family readiness group) meetings and to have the information, because you just don’t know. You have to take it serious,” she said.

Despite the loss of her spouse, she said she feels called to continue to help soldiers and families.

On Friday, Garcia is taking her story to the runway, in a fashion show to raise money for the American Widow Project.

The San Marcos-based nonprofit provides military widows with support through inspiring and empowering community programs, said Taryn Davis, who founded the project after her own husband died in combat in Afghanistan. Since 2008, the project has helped more than 800 widows.

“I think the fact that the models are military spouses and widows is what makes the event special,” Davis said. “These women and what they give and sacrifice on a daily basis is incredible.”

The fashion show is hosted by students in a public relations class at Davis’ and her husband’s alma mater — Texas State University in San Marcos. The group hopes to raise $10,000 for the organization, and get good marks in the course.

As the models walk down the runway, the audience will learn about who they are, who their spouse was and what they are doing now.

“I hope they celebrate and applaud, because they deserve it. I’m grateful we can give that to them,” Davis said.

For siblings Michael and Vanessa Joseph, both Texas State seniors and graduates of Harker Heights High School, the idea of raising money for widows hits close to home. Their history with Central Texas guided their decision on where to host their group’s fundraiser.

“Another reason this project is important to us, is our father went overseas,” Michael Joseph said. “We only got phone calls every two months. We were the lucky ones, because our dad got to come back. ... I can’t imagine if my dad didn’t come back.”

Garcia said she isn’t too nervous about walking down the runway — she’s excited.

“I’m in a lot of Facebook widow groups, but it’s different when you have a face to put to a name. We share stories and laugh and cry together,” she said. “I hope (the audience) takes away what our life is like for a little bit, and they see our strength.”

If you go

The Remembrance Fashion Show benefiting the American Widow Project is Friday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Get tickets: General admission, $10; VIP, $15 at the door. A VIP ticket includes reserved seating in the first two rows and an exclusive goodie bag.

The event also includes a silent auction, guest speakers and a live music performance. Alcoholic beverages and food are available for purchase.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

3 images

Herald/CATRINA RAWSON

Jennifer Warner, of Killeen and a Gold Star spouse, holds a dress she tried on Friday, March 7, 2014, at Dillard's in Killeen while looking for a dress to wear in a fashion show in support of the American Widow Project. The fashion show is Friday, March 21, 2014.

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