First Woman with Down Syndrome to Compete in Miss USA Pageant Makes HistoryBy Kristi Burton Brown
Live Action News - November 28, 2017
Over Thanksgiving weekend, 22-year-old Mikayla Holmgren competed in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. She is the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA pageant.
“I want the whole world to see that I can do things that are hard and that people with Down syndrome are beautiful and talented,” Mikayla told the Star Tribune. With Iceland and other countries trying to eradicate people with Down syndrome, Mikayla’s message is one the world needs.
Sandi, Mikayla’s mother shared that, when Mikayla was born prematurely, doctors told her and her husband that their daughter might never talk or walk. But the parents have always shared an important philosophy they use when raising their gifted daughter:
From the start, my husband and I decided that she’s a child first and the Down syndrome is secondary. … We never said that she can’t do this because she has Down syndrome; instead we asked, “Why not?”
Denise Wallace, Miss USA’s executive director, told the UK’s Independent that anyone who “spends even five minutes” with Mikayla “knows that she is the right person to be the first to represent a community of people that need to see themselves doing something like this.” Wallace also called Mikayla a “trailblazer,” saying, “she is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful.”
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