Woman with Down syndrome wins 'Spirit of Miss USA'

Woman breaks barriers as first with Down syndrome to compete in Miss USA state pageant

Woman breaks barriers as first with Down syndrome to compete in Miss USA state pageant

A Minnesota woman with Down syndrome won awards and national attention after competing in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant over the weekend. The 22-year-old is from Stillwater, Minnesota - which is almost 30 miles west of Minneapolis.

While Holmgren did not win the title of Miss Minnesota, she did get a standing ovation as she received two major awards: the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director's Award, the Pioneer Press reports.

"I was super shocked, I was in tears", Mikayla told BuzzFeed.

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For Holmgren, though, she is excited to just make a difference as the first person with Down Syndrome to compete for the crown. "It's kind of insane".

She is studying at Bethel University. She is also an intern at the university's child care center and an ambassador for the nonprofit Best Buddies.

The Miss Minnesota beauty pageant is no stranger to breaking barriers, in fact, almost one year ago the pageant included its first contestant to wear a hijab for all rounds.

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Holmgren made headlines last spring after she applied for the pageant.

So when she became the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant Sunday night, they didn't think twice-especially given the competition's history of breaking barriers. "I want to do this, on my own and I'm really, really proud of myself". "So for me, I'm here to show diversity of size! She was inspired and said that if Mikayla could do this, then she could, too".

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