Minnesota woman hopes to become the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit model with Down syndrome

Ellen Galles
Updated: March 23, 2021 06:53 PM
Created: March 23, 2021 04:55 PM

A Minnesota woman is hoping to break barriers and redefine beauty.

"All women need to be celebrated," 26-year-old Mikayla Holmgren says in her audition reel for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Holmgren is still waiting to hear back from the magazine, but her efforts are already getting national attention.

"Just be yourself. Follow your dreams and you can do it," she said.

Woman is first with Down syndrome in Miss USA state pageant

The Marine On St. Croix native is no stranger to the spotlight. In 2017, she was the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant. She is setting her sights on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue because she says the magazine has always showcased how diverse beauty can be.

"Modeling is a passion and a creative art," she said.

"Performing is a big part of how she communicates," her father, Craig Holmgren, said. "She can articulate and people can connect to that."

"My hope is she is just treated the same as everyone else. We have never treated her different just because she has Down syndrome," her mother, Sandi Holmgren, said. 

Mikayla is also a dancer and a choreographer, a public speaker and a graduate of Bethel University.

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