Find Out How This Woman With Down Syndrome Opened the Door for More Diversity in Beauty Pageants
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Find Out How This Woman With Down Syndrome Opened the Door for More Diversity in Beauty Pageants

Mikayla Holmgren is a 22-year-old woman with a passion for dance. More important, she just became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA State Pageant, winning both our hearts and two awards…

Following Her Passions, No Matter What

After winning Minnesota Miss Amazing, a pageant for women with disabilities, in 2015, Mikayla Holmgren received a letter about the next big pageant: Miss Minnesota. She bugged her mom for days and insisted on applying for the State beauty pageant. Much to her mother’s surprise, the State contest accepted Mikayla’s application.


"I didn't realize it was part of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant and it took me a few weeks to realize the enormity of it and what a big deal it was for her to be in”, explained her mom, Sandi Holmgren. Even before the actual contest, Mikayla had made history, becoming the first contestant with Down Syndrome to compete in a Miss USA State pageant.

Being True to Yourself Is the Real Beauty Here

After months of shopping, preparation and dance lessons (Mikayla choreographs all her routines), the 22-year-old Bethel University student finally showed her kind spirit and her abilities on stage, and won two awards: the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director's Award.


The executive state director of Miss Minnesota USA herself gave the big price to Mikayla: "You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first," Heitkamp said, according to Pioneer Press. "You have selflessness, humility and the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart."

Blazing a Trail for More Diversity

After the beauty pageant, Mikayla and her family went in a restaurant to celebrate. Surrounded by her loved ones, the young woman remembered the reveal. "I was super shocked, I was in tears," she said while being interviewed by Buzzfeed. "I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It's kind of crazy." 


It might seem crazy, but for many men and women with Down syndrome, it’s about time something changes! "She's going to be a leader and [she] stands firms for others that don't maybe know how to achieve things," Sandi said.

Just like Madeline Stuart – a young woman with Down syndrome who became a successful model, and Jamie Brewer – a young actress with Down syndrome, Mikayla is changing the face of fashion, one challenge at a time!

Source: buzzfeed. com, huffingtonpost.com

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