According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome. This makes Down syndrome the most common chromosomal condition with around 6,000 babies born in the US with the condition each year.
The Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This year, America saw its first woman with Down syndrome compete in a state pageant. 22-year-old Mikayla Holmgren from Stillwater, Minnesota, might not have won the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, but she came away with special honors.
Mikayla became the first person to compete in such a competition and stole the show last weekend
The 22-year-old took to the Ames Center’s stage in Burnsville as a contestant for the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant
The blonde beauty made history at the event, receiving the Spirit of Miss USA Award after a standing ovation from the audience.
“You make people smile every time you talk, cheer, smile, and dance. You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first,” executive director Denise Wallace Heitkamp, told Mikayla as she presented the Spirit Award.
She went on: “You have selflessness, humility, and the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart.”
The Bethel University student wore a floor-length blue gown and accepted the award teary-eyed
Mikayla is a talented performer, who started dancing at the age of six. She came to the attention of the Miss Minnesota organizers after winning Minnesota Miss Amazing – a pageant for women with disabilities, in 2015.
When she received a letter in the mail about the Miss Minnesota pageant, the student begged her mom to let her compete
She agreed and history was made!
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Mikayla’s mom Sandi Holmgren described the moment her daughter received the letter
“I wrote that she had Down syndrome and thought they would pass her by. But they decided they wanted her to be a part of it,” she said.
“I didn’t realize it was part of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant. It took me a few weeks to realize the enormity and what a big deal it was for her to be in.”
Mikayla’s appearance saw numerous other women with Down syndrome come watch her take the stage
The Miss Minnesota pageant has broken other barriers, too
Last year, semi-finalist Halima Aden was the first woman to compete in a hijab. She was an inspiration to more women to do the same this year.
Although the Miss Minnesota crown went to Kalie Wright of Eagle Bend, Mikayla was not disappointed. She actually plans to continue inspiring others by competing in pageants in the future.
Here‘s a story about another woman with Down syndrome who made her dreams come true by opening a bakery.