Standing ovations as woman with Down syndrome becomes first to compete in Miss Minnesota USA


Mikayla Holmgren accepts the
Mikayla Holmgren was given the
Mikayla Holmgren,center, chats backstage with fellow competitors before the start of the Miss Minnesota USA contest at Ames Center in Burnsville, Nov. 26, 2017. From left: contestants Rachel Greene of Morehead, Rachel Gasterland of Chaska, Holmgren, Jaclyn Housley of Lake Elmo, Sahra Ibrahim of Brooklyn Park. Holmgren, who has Down Syndrome, did not move on to the final round. (Pioneer Press / Scott Takushi)
A crown, sashes and awards are seen prior to the the Miss Minnesota USA contest where Mikayla Holmgren, who has Down Syndrome was given the

Mikayla Holmgren made history Sunday night at the Ames Center in Burnsville when she became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Holmgren, who also is believed to be the first woman with Down syndrome to compete nationwide, was named the recipient of the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director’s Award.

The 22-year-old from Marine on St. Croix, dressed in a royal-blue Jovani gown with a train, shrieked with joy as she accepted the awards.

“You make people smile every time you talk, cheer, smile and dance,” said Denise Wallace Heitkamp, executive state director, as she read from Mikayla’s nomination letter for the Spirit Award. “You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first. You have selflessness, humility and the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart.”

The audience gave Holmgren standing ovations as she accepted the awards.

“I’m so excited,” Holmgren said. “I can’t believe it!”

Kalie Wright of Eagle Bend was named Miss Minnesota USA 2018; Melissa Paahk of Detroit Lakes was runner-up.

Peyton Schroeder of Rosemount was named Miss Teen Minnesota USA.

The contest is part of the Miss Universe Organization.

Among those cheering were Lana Beaton and her 2-year-old daughter Clara, of Grand Forks, N.D. Beaton said she read about Holmgren’s accomplishments and decided to bring her daughter, who has Down syndrome, to the historic event.

“I was overwhelmed,” Beaton said. “I was full…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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