This Woman is the First With Down Syndrome to Compete in a Miss USA State Pageant

History has been made!

Last Sunday night, 22-year-old Mikayla Holmgren of Stillwater, Minnesota, made headlines when she became the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA contest. According to People, her ultimate ambition is to show the populace that those with Down Syndrome are quite normal and usually, quite happy.

Said the college student, “I said, ‘I want to do this’. I want to show my personality. I want to show what my life looks like, being happy, and joyful. I want to show what Down Syndrome looks like.” In addition to making history, she took home the Spirit of Miss USA Award and Director’s Award.

The 22-year-old decided to apply for the pageant in April of this year. Having previously won the Minnesota Miss Amazing pageant — a competition that features women with special needs, she felt inspired to compete again. Reportedly, she was incredibly proud to be accepted. “I was just so happy and I had a smile on my face,” Holmgren recalled. 

According to Denise Wallace, the executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA, Holmgren was a “perfect fit” for the pageant. She said,

Mikayla is such an incredible and accomplished young woman. We feel she definitely has what it takes to compete at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant this fall in that she is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful.”

The college student is now preparing for the next event, which will take place on November 26. Win or lose, she says she is proud of herself for making a difference as the first person to compete in the pageant with Down Syndrome. 

“That means my life is changing because of the pageant. I’m very proud of myself. It’s a new thing in my life,” she said. “I’m going to blaze the trail!”

Following are photos of the competitor:

Watch the video below to learn more:

Holmgren isn’t just changing her own life by competing, she is inspiring thousands of people. To this day, Down Syndrome remains widely misunderstood by the majority of the population. In an effort to combat misinformation and prejudice, we’ve compiled 10 facts about Down Syndrome you may or may not know:

  1. Down Syndrome occurs when a member of the population is born with 47 chromosomes, rather than 46. They have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.
  2. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition — not an illness or a disease. As a result, you cannot “catch” it.
  3. Down syndrome does not define individuals, it is simply a part of who they are.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, people with Down Syndrome are not always happy. They are human and experience ranging emotions — just like you.
  5. Children with Down Syndrome are just like their peers, except it takes them a little bit longer to comprehend new information. Please be patient.
  6. A person’s facial features do not determine their cognitive ability. A person may have the characteristic physical features of Down Syndrome and still have a high IQ. Please don’t generalize.
  7. Every person who has Down Syndrome experiences cognitive delays. However, the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that individual possesses.
  8. Adults with Down Syndrome are not “perpetual children.” Many are functioning members of society, just like you and me.
  9. People with Down Syndrome contribute to their families, their schools, their coworkers, their employers, and society.
  10. Those with Down Syndrome do not “suffer.” In a study conducted by Brian Skotko, 99 percent of adults with Down Syndrome reported that they are happy with their lives.

Learn more here.

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Source: People, Bored Panda

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