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Woman with Down syndrome talks about competing in Miss Minnesota USA pageant

Mikayla Holmgren
Woman with Down syndrome talks about competing in Miss Minnesota USA pageant 01:30

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minnesota woman broke barriers over the weekend as the first contestant with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

CBS Minnesota reports Mikayla Holmgren -- a 22-year-old dancer and Bethel University student -- took home two awards that evening.

Days after making history, the trailblazer was still beaming.

"I'm loving it, I'm loving it," Holmgren said. "I love pageants, actually. [Miss Minnesota USA] is so fun."

She said she hopes her message that true beauty begins on the inside spreads.

"I have special needs and it's really important," Holmgren said. "Dream big without limits."

Mikayla Holmgren, a 22-year-old dancer and Bethel University student, took home two awards at the Miss USA pageant.  CBS Minnesota

Holmgren made everyone smile as she walked and waved in her evening gown.

"[Down syndrome is] not something that hinders or holds her back, so that's really inspiring," her father, Craig Holmgren, said. 

There was not a dry eye in the room when Holmgren's mom, Sandi, joined her on stage while a letter was read honoring her with the Spirit of Miss USA Award.

"That just moves a mama's heart to see that she was loved so much during this pageant," Sandi Holmgren said. "Before she went out on stage that night, she texted me she said, 'I'm thankful I'm on stage tonight. I will be the awareness that people need.'"

In addition to the Spirit of Miss USA Award, Holmgren also received the Director's Award.

"I'm going to keep them and keep them and keep them," Holmgren said. "I love them so much."

She said she's grateful for the friendships she made during the Miss Minnesota pageant.

Other high-profile pageants have reached out with invitations for Holmgren to participate.

First woman with Down syndrome competes in Miss Minnesota USA pageant 01:04
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