Mikayla Holmgren is making history. The 22-year-old Minnesota woman has become the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant, and she's paving the way for others, not just in her state but across the country. Mikayla has never let Down syndrome stand in the way of her passion for pageants. "I'm really proud of myself, this is my dream," Mikayla told KSTP, a local Minnesota news station.
But Mikayla didn't just break barriers for women with Down syndrome, she also brought home two awards — the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director's Award — with a huge smile on her face. She has been dancing competitively since she was 6 years old, and competing in the Miss USA state pageant is just another way she's fueling her passions. "I want to be able to show others what inclusion is all about, that someone with special needs can go after their dreams," she told Project: Just Like You, a nonprofit organization.
In addition to following her dreams with pageants and dancing, Mikayla is an ambassador for Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities, nurtures friendships, and enhances the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This is just the beginning of inclusiveness in pageants, and it's incredible! Read on to see all the stunning pictures of Mikayla before, during, and after the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.