Meet Mikayla Holmgren, the first woman with Down Syndrome to run in Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She’s a dancer, choreographer and Ambassador for Best Buddies Int’l, a non-profit organization aimed at improving the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I want to be able to show others what inclusion is all about, that someone with special needs can go after their dreams,” the 22-year old contestant said. She won two awards during the competition: the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director’s Award.
“I was super shocked, I was in tears,” she gushed. “I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It’s kind of crazy.”
Mikayla is used to performing in front of large audience, having been dancing since she was six, but the Miss USA state pageant was her major challenge yet.
“Mikayla is such an incredible and accomplished young woman,” Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA, said. “She is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants.”