Mikayla Holmgren made history in Minnesota and became a role model to young girls nationwide Saturday night. The 22-year-old became the first women with Down syndrome ever to compete in a Miss USA state pageant. Holmgren was awarded the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director's Award during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Dressed in a blue gown, a shocked and elated Holmgren accepted her awards Sunday as the audience gave her a standing ovation.
“You make people smile every time you talk, cheer, smile, and dance,” Denise Wallace Heitkamp, executive state director, said as she presented the Spirit Award. “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.”
After reading about Holmgren's participation in the pageant, the Pioneer Press reported that several women brought their daughters, who also have Down syndrome, to watch her participate in the event.
“I was overwhelmed,” Lana Beaton, who brought her 2-year-old daughter Clara to see the pageant, told the Press. “I was full of so much hope and joy and excitement for her and our future.”
Holmgren, a Bethel College student and dancer, is happy to be a pioneer and show others how far they can go. Read more about Holmgren and her path to the pageant at Buzzfeed.