Woman becomes the first Miss USA contestant with Down syndrome

Faith Castro
November 29, 2017

A young Minnesota woman is breaking down barriers, becoming the first woman with down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota Pageant.

The 22-year-old emerged victorious over the weekend too, leaving the pageant with the Spirit of Miss USA award.

The spirit of Miss USA award is determined by the judges based on letters that have been submitted by contestants' family and friends. "I want to be able to show others what inclusion is all about, that someone with special needs can go after their dreams", she told Project: Just Like You, a nonprofit organization. "You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first".

The director's award recognizes a young woman that is a standout in the pageant.

Read on to see all the stunning pictures of Mikayla before, during, and after the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

She also received a standing ovation from the audience.

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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".

Mikayla Holmgren is making history.

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

She made it to the semifinals in the top 15 but didn't make it to the top five.

One Minnesota woman is quickly earning the title of "trailblazer".

The competition is held annually and consists of three segments: evening gown, swimwear/activewear, and an interview.

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