Woman With Down Syndrome Competes In Miss USA Pageant For 1st Time, Doesn’t Return Empty-handed

Mikayla Holmgren recently made history when she competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She became an instant inspiration for thousands of people for her determination and perseverance. Her efforts have touched the hearts of many because the 22-year-old dancer has Down syndrome.

Mikayla is the first person with Down syndrome to ever compete in a Miss USA state pageant

“I’m really good at them because it’s my passion,” Mikayla told KSTP about competing in pageants. “It’s really fun. As I do more pageants and I’m really proud of myself…this is my dream.”

And she’s right — she’s really good at them. Mikayla was previously crowned Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing in 2015. This win propelled her to compete in the national Junior Miss Amazing in Los Angeles as well. Oh, did we mention she’s also an accomplished dancer? She knew that this was something she was born to do.

Mikayla’s decided to use her past pageant experience and take a chance by competing in the Miss Minnesota USA competition.

“I said, ‘I want to do this,’” Mikayla told PEOPLE. “I want to show my personality. I want to show what my life looks like, being happy, and joyful. I want to show what Down Syndrome looks like.”

As far as Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA was concerned, Mikayla was the absolute perfect fit for the world-renowned pageant.

“Mikayla is such an incredible and accomplished young woman. We feel she definitely has what it takes to compete at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant…in that she is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful,” Wallace said.

Mikayla wants to show the world that Down syndrome isn’t something that defines her. She hopes that she can show the world that she, and other people with Down syndrome, are capable of accomplishing anything they put their minds to.

Although the crown was taken by Kalie Wright, Mikayla did not walk away empty-handed.

Mikayla was named the recipient of the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director’s Award, which netted her a standing ovation from the audience and judges that day.

“I’m so excited,” Mikayla said. “I can’t believe it!”

Her story and journey are nothing short of admirable and Mikayla’s efforts are sure to provide inspiration to many others.

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