Published: Tue, November 28, 2017
Culture | By Wayne Carr

Woman with Down syndrome wins 'Spirit of Miss USA'

Woman with Down syndrome wins 'Spirit of Miss USA'

Mikayla Holmgren of Stillwater, Minnesota was one of 51 contestants who competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant on November 25. The 22-year-old is from Stillwater, Minnesota - which is almost 30 miles west of Minneapolis.

While Holmgren didn't take home the crown, she did earn two major awards and a standing ovation from the crowd.

"Down syndrome means I have something special", Mikayla Holmgren told the Star-Tribune.

"I would recommend the pageant to anyone because of the opportunities to learn scholarships for school, make new girlfriends and improve your interview skills", Aden said. "It's kind of insane".

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KARE 11 sat down with Holmgren, a Bethel University student, earlier this year to hear her story. She is also an intern at the university's child care center and an ambassador for the nonprofit Best Buddies.

This is the second year in a row this pageant has had contestants blazing the trail for change.

Holmgren made headlines last spring after she applied for the pageant.

These are great steps for diversity within beauty pageants, however, plus-sized model Ashley Graham criticized the Miss Universe pageant for lack of "curvy girls".

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When it comes to pageants, Holmgren tells ABC 5, "I'm really good at them because it's my passion". "So for me, I'm here to show diversity of size!"

The victor of Miss Minnesota goes on to compete at Miss USA. "She was inspired and said that if Mikayla could do this, then she could, too".

A 22-year-old woman from Minnesota is a trailblazer after she became the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.

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