Woman is First with Down Syndrome in Miss USA State Pageant

November 26, 2017 09:20 PM

The Miss Minnesota USA pageant is making history for the second consecutive year this weekend in Burnsville.

For the first time, a young woman with Down syndrome is competing for a Miss USA State Pageant.


Mikayla Holmgren was born with Down syndrome , but that hasn't stopped her from competing in pageants.

"I'm really good at them because it's my passion," Mikayla Holmgren, a Stillwater native, said.

To help guide her is Halima Aden. A year ago, she became the first Somali-American woman to compete in a pageant wearing a hijab and burkini.

"So it's been a year since we last spoke, what has life been like? Oh my gosh, insane in the best way possible," Aden said.

RELATED: Teenager Becomes First Somali-American in Miss Minnesota USA Competition

Now on magazine covers, signing with a modeling agency and doing ads with American Eagle and Nike, Aden stresses it all started at the Ames Center. 

"It's not just a pageant to me, it's my entire new world," Aden said. 

She didn't win, but a semi-finalist trophy last year opened up doors for Aden and others. 

"A year ago I could hardly find a magazine with a picture of someone dressed like me so for me to be on the cover, it's just incredible," Aden said. 

Side by side, these two women are an inspiration.

"Now other girls are having that same opportunity to do the same and it makes me feel really happy," Aden said. 

Ready or not, the spotlight is here, but Holmgren sure is ready to let her beauty shine. 

"It's really fun," she said. "As I do more pageants and I'm really proud of myself ... this is my dream," Holmgren said. 

Kalie Wright of Eagle Bend was crowned Miss Minnesota USA on Sunday night at the pageant finals. Rosemount's Peyton Schroeder was crowned Miss Minnesota Teen USA. Both will now advance to compete in next year's national pageants. 


Brett Hoffland

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