This Miss USA State Contestant Just Made History as the First Competitor With Down Syndrome

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Mikayla Holmgren is a 22-year-old college student from Stillwater, Minnesota. She enjoys dancing and performing and oh yeah, she just made history as the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.

This incredible trailblazer is a testament to hard work and believing in yourself. It’s just the kind of story we all need to read today.

She plans to graduate in 2018, but in the meantime, she’s breaking barriers and winning awards! Her historic participation in the 2017 Miss Minnesota pageant is a fantastic source of inspiration.

From the age of 6, she always loved performing in front of people. “Dancing is a good outlet for me. It’s how I express myself,” she told BuzzFeed News. “It’s my talent and I want to show people what I can do and how I can give more.”

Since then, she knew she was destined for more. Earlier this year, she got a letter in the mail about the Miss Minnesota pageant, and she said she “bugged her mom” for days to let her apply to participate.

“It took me a few weeks to realize the enormity of it and what a big deal it was for her to be in,” she said. But Mikayla was more than ready to compete at this high level.

Holmgren was the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss USA pageant. But that wasn’t the only way she made history that night…

“I was super shocked, I was in tears,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It’s kind of crazy.”

“It’s a lot of work,” she told BuzzFeed News. “My mom and I were always shopping and then the mock interview and getting ready and practicing everything and the makeup and hair. Just look at my face!”

As Denise Wallace Heitkamp, executive state director, presented the Spirit Award to Holmgren, she said, “You make people smile every time you talk, cheer, smile, and dance. You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first. You have selflessness, humility, and the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart.”

According to BuzzFeed News, the Pioneer Press reported that several women brought their daughters, who have Down syndrome, to watch Holmgren participate in the pageant. “I was overwhelmed,” said Lana Beaton, mom to 2-year-old daughter Clara. “I was full of so much hope and joy and excitement for her and our future.”

She hopes to “blaze the trail” and show that women with developmental disabilities are just as capable of participating in the same pageants as everyone else. Of her aspirations, Holmgren told BuzzFeed News, “I want to do some modeling and more dancing. I have a big future.”