A young woman became the first ever person with Down’s Syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.
When 22-year-old Mikayla Holmgren strutted across the stage in her blue dress at the Miss Minnesota pageant last November, she accomplished something no one had ever done before.
Winning two prizes, the Spirit of Miss USA as well as the Director’s Award, Mikayla’s emotion was evident as she burst into tears when the announcers called her on to the stage to accept her awards.
You can watch Mikayla at the pageant below:
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Back in 2015 Mikayla won the Junior Miss Amazing competition, which is a pageant for people with disabilities.
Deciding to follow her dream, she spoke to her mum, Sandi, about entering the Miss Minnesota USA pageant and Mikayla got the thumbs up.
Speaking to Today, at the time, Sandi admitted she didn’t realise exactly what Mikayla was joining:
It didn’t really hit me it was the Miss USA, Miss Universe pageant. There are so many pageants.
She chose the pageants of pageants and I got nervous.
Mikayla however was completely unfazed by it all – she’d been dancing for 16 years, even participating in gymnastics at the Special Olympics.
Practising walking in heels, Mikayla also took part in mock interviews and worked hard to make sure she was ready for the competition.
She confidently told Today she wasn’t nervous at all and just wanted to show others they should ‘believe in themselves’.
Before stepping out on stage for the first part of the pageant, Mikayla sent her mum Sandi a text which read:
I am thankful for the stage, a place for awareness of Down’s Syndrome.
I can imagine I’m not the only one who’s close to crying right now!
Although she didn’t win, when Mikayla accepted her two awards, she received a standing ovation as the audience and other competitors wiped tears from their eyes in admiration.
Mikayla was stunned by the support she received from both the public and her fellow ‘pageant girls’, revealing she’d been moved by the whole experience.
It was incredible. My mum was in tears, my dad was, too. It’s making a difference in the world.
Currently a student at Bethel University, Mikayla now has her sights set on competing in more pageants, as well as raising awareness about her condition by publicly speaking at the likes of the United Nations.
She really is an inspiration to all os uf!
You can follow Mikayla’s journey on her Facebook page Mikayla Holmgren – Dancer with Down Syndrome.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.