First woman with Down syndrome competes in Miss USA state pageant

First woman with Down syndrome competes in Miss USA state pageant

First woman with Down syndrome competes in Miss USA state pageant

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. "I love the stage and I'm so proud of myself".

While Holmgren did not win the title of Miss Minnesota, she did get a standing ovation as she received two major awards: the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director's Award, the Pioneer Press reports.

The spirit of Miss USA award is determined by the judges based on letters that have been submitted by contestants' family and friends.

"She's achieved more than I ever dreamed of", mother Sandi Holmgren said.

"[Her friend] wrote about how Mikayla lights up a room and has no expectation for people to treat her differently".

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"I didn't realize it was part of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant and it took me a few weeks to realize the enormity of it and what a big deal it was for her to be in".

Past year a Miss Minnesota USA semi-finalist became the first woman to wear a hijab during the pageant, with several others following suit at Sunday's competition.

Aden has since gone signed with a modeling agency and has been on numerous magazine covers, including Vogue, and her success has inspired others to follow in her footsteps, said Wallace. Holmgren previously competed in both the state and national Junior Miss Amazing pageants, which recognizes girls and women with disabilities.

The Miss Minnesota contest is being held this weekend, with the finals on Sunday.

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