“I want to be able to show others what inclusion is all about, that someone with special needs can go after their dreams.”
Those are the words of Mikayla Holmgren, a 22-year-old from Stillwater, Minnesota who’s just made history by becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant. Not only that but she proudly returned with not one but two awards: the Spirit of Miss USA Award, and the Director’s Award! “I was super shocked, I was in tears,” she said. “I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It’s kind of crazy.”
Mikayla is no stranger to performing in front of crowds, having been dancing since the age of six, but the Miss USA state pageant was by far her biggest challenge yet. When she’s not stealing the show at beauty pageants, Mikayla is an ambassador for Best Buddies, a non-profit organization aimed at enhancing the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Mikayla is such an incredible and accomplished young woman,” said Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA. “She is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants.”
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