Skip to main content

Mikayla Holmgren made history at the Miss Minnesota pageant

She's the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete for the title.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Mikayla Holmgren wasn't crowned Miss Minnesota this weekend, but she definitely stole the show.

As she took the stage at the Ames Center in Burnsville Sunday night, the 22-year-old from Marine on St. Croix made history as the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.

“Mikayla is a trailblazer,” Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, told the Star Tribune.

You might remember her name. Holmgren first made headlines last spring when she announced she'd been accepted into the pageant.

"And, that is all I want...to be accepted," she wrote on a GoFundMe page at the time. 

Holmgren's story has become a huge inspiration to many. Her Facebook page – Mikayla Holmgren, Dancer with Down Syndrome – has nearly 7,000 followers.

"I want the world to know that Down Syndrome does not define me," Holmgren wrote back in April.

A student in Bethel University's Inclusive Learning and Development program, Holmgren lives on campus, interns at the university's child care center, and devotes much of her free time to mentoring other students with disabilities. 

She's also an award-winning dancer who choreographs her own solos.

In 2015, Holmgren won the Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing pageant, a competition for women with disabilities. She told Buzzfeed News that experience inspired her to take on a bigger challenge.

Though she didn't take home the big title on Sunday (Kalie Wright of Eagle Bend was crowned Miss Minnesota USA), Holmgren received the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director’s Award. The Pioneer Press says the crowd gave standing ovations as she accepted the awards.

"I was super shocked, I was in tears," Holmgren told Buzzfeed over FaceTime late Sunday night. "I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It's kind of crazy."

The Miss Minnesota pageant is challenging society's expectations of what a beauty queen looks like. Last year Halima Aden became the first woman to compete wearing a hijab and burkini.

Next Up

Deer on road

Motorcyclist in collision with deer dies from injuries

The 55-year-old from Princeton died at a hospital a day after the crash.

U9GqW_wM

Burnsville approves measure that will make its landfill much taller

The expansion will increase the landfill's allowable height by an additional 268 feet.

michael carbo

Northern MN man found guilty in 1980s cold case murder

Nancy Daugherty was found dead in the afternoon hours of July 16, 1986.

Red Ox Cafe

Breakfast spot in Ham Lake closes after decades in business

The business posted an announcement on its front door.

Screen Shot 2022-08-17 at 1.43.04 PM

St. Paul man killed partner, himself while their 5 kids were home

St. Paul confirmed the double shooting on Tuesday evening was murder-suicide.

Kids competing in USA Mullet Championships

Minnesota, Wisconsin kids competing in USA Mullet Championships

The contest is divided into kids and teens divisions.

ATV

One killed after being trapped under UTV near Alexandria

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says the victim died at the scene.

image

What's in the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden?

How the nation's biggest climate law will reduce emissions.

Patrick Henry High School

Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis will get new name

A school board meeting was held this week, discussing what's next going forward.

Mike Max

Mike Max is out at WCCO Radio

Max got his start at WCCO Radio in 1998.

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

Uber passenger dies a week after fiery crash in St. Paul

Her Uber was struck by a suspected drunk-driver.

Related

This Muslim teen is making history in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant

If she wins Miss Minnesota, Aden will move on to the Miss USA competition.

Woman will be first with Down syndrome to compete in Miss Minnesota USA Pageant

She applied and got accepted, saying: "And that is all I wanted ... to be accepted."

Woman will be first with Down syndrome to compete in Miss Minnesota USA Pageant

She applied and got accepted, saying: "And that is all I wanted ... to be accepted."

Former Miss Minnesota makes Sport Illustrated's Swimsuit issue

Haley Kalil was picked during the magazine's first-ever open casting call.

These are the finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards

There are 36 finalists competing in nine categories.

These are the finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards

There are 36 finalists competing in nine categories.