A woman who was called a “trailblazer” for becoming the first person with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant won the “Spirit of Miss USA” on Sunday.
Mikayla Holmgren, 22, was given the award after competing on Saturday at the pageant in Burnsville. It’s the first time someone with Down syndrome has competed in a Miss USA state pageant, according to FOX9.
“I'm really good at them because it's my passion," Holmgren told KSTP of her pageantry experience. "It's really fun. As I do more pageants and I'm really proud of myself ... this is my dream.”
The 22-year-old had previously been crowned Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing in 2015 and competed in the national Junior Miss Amazing in Los Angeles, the Star Tribune reported.
“Mikayla is a trailblazer,” executive co-director of the pageant, Denise Wallace, told the newspaper. Wallace told People in May “that she is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful.”
Holmgren said she wants the world to know that her Down syndrome “does not define” her. “With your help, I can help break through walls,” she told KARE television.
Kalie Wright, of Eagle Bend, was ultimately crowned Miss Minnesota 2018. This was the second year the pageant has made history. Last year, Halima Aden, a Somali-American woman who was a semi-finalist in last year’s pageant, was the first person to compete wearing a hijab.