MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A 22-year-old Minnesotan will be the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Mikayla Holmgren, a Marine on St. Croix resident, recently learned she had been selected after submitting an application.
"Beauty is from the inside out," Mikayla told Fox 9. "I'm happy and joyful, it's like beauty inside out. It's almost gorgeous."
Mikayla's parents say they're excited for her to show a different definition of beauty.
"She was born six-and-a-half weeks early, and at that point we didn't know what life held for her, and to see her blossom and grow and achieve more than we ever dreamed of," said Sandi Holmgren, Mikayla's mom.
"We've had a 22-year front-row seat to what special needs are. And I think as a parent, you go in knowing nothing about it," said Craig Holmgren, Mikayla's dad. "And to see the struggles and the things she's been able to accomplish and overcome has taught us a lot about kids with special needs, the heart and the spirit they have."
Mikayla, a student at Bethel University, maintains a very busy lifestyle. She dances, performs gymnastics and studies regularly.
Mikayla's gymnastics coach told Fox 9 she learns more from Mikayla than she is able to teach. "Her inner joy, her inner work ethic, her desire to not let any obstacles stop her from achieving her dreams, to me that's what beautiful is," said Megan Korth, Mikayla's coach.
Mikayla won the Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing pageant in 2015. The Miss Minnesota USA pageant is in November in Burnsville.
"I'm excited, excited to do everything. I like doing all the activities I'm doing," Mikayla told Fox 9. "I'm very proud of myself."
Help Mikayla cover her pageant entrance fee and gown at https://www.gofundme.com/MissMinnesotaMikayla.