A Minnesota woman is looking to make history by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to enter the Miss USA pageant’s regional competitions.
Mikayla Holmgren, a Bethel University student and avid dancer, has been accepted to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant after applying online.
“I want to do this. My mom is so freaked out but I want to do this,” Mikayla told local media. “I want to do this, on my own and I’m really, really proud of myself,” she added.
The 22-year-old, who believes beauty begins on the inside, will take part in the state competition this November in hopes of qualifying for the nationally televised final next spring.
“Outside beauty, it’s like inside out because I’m thinking about what’s gorgeous. Like happy, joyful,” Mikayla told WCCO. “I’m just really excited, it’s out in the world and people are going to know about this.”
Mikayla, who won the title of Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing in 2015, has already started preparing to take the stage in the fall, practising her interview skills and walking in high heels.
The pageant judges competitors on three categories: evening gown, swimsuit and interview.
Mikayla’s family hopes her appearance in the competition will help inspire others.
“She’s an ambassador. She’s going to be a leader and stands firm for others that maybe don’t know how to achieve things,” Mikayla’s mother, Sandi Holmgren, said.
“Hats off to the selection committee for taking a broader picture and looking back and saying, look at her credentials and say let’s go for it,” added Craig Holmgren, Mikayla’s dad.
“I want the world to know that Down Syndrome does not define me,” Mikayla wrote on a crowdfunding page that was set up to help cover her costs. “With your help, I can help break through walls.”
It’s not the first time the Miss Minnesota USA pageant has been used as a platform to show beauty in all forms.
Last year Halima Aden, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, became the first Muslim woman to wear both a hijab and burkini during the competition.