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Kayla Kosmalski makes history as first Miss Delaware Teen USA with Down syndrome

Kayla Kosmalski makes history as first Miss Delaware Teen USA with Down syndrome
Kayla Kosmalski makes history as first Miss Delaware Teen USA with Down syndrome 02:16

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — There was a first in the First State on Sunday when 17-year-old Kayla Kosmalski was crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA. She is the very first contestant with Down syndrome to win the title.

Kosmalski, a senior at Middletown High School, took home the award in her second time in the competition. It was held at the Laird Performing Art Center at the Tatnall School. Kosmalski captivated the audience and judges with her grace, charm and unwavering determination.  

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Kosmalski competed in her first pageant at just 5 years old. Now, 12 years later, she says she's mastered the art of stage presence. 

"I love the stage so much, I have lots of confidence," Kosmalski said.

Kosmalski is now headed for the national stage. She will represent Delaware in the upcoming Miss Teen USA Pageant on Aug. 1.

Her presence in the competition marks a significant milestone. She will be the first ever delegate with Down syndrome to take part in the competition.

Beyond her pageant win, Kosmalski has dedicated herself to advocacy and activism, lobbying for the rights and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Her efforts played a role in the passage of the ABLE Act, renamed the Kayla Act in Delaware, underscoring her commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive society for all.  

"Kayla's representing all individuals with Down syndrome. There's a bigger picture. She's representing not just herself, but also so many others who may be afraid to take that chance and step out of their comfort zone," Vincenza Carrieri-Russo, executive director of Miss Delaware Teen USA, said. 

Kosmalski is also a cheerleader, a competitive swimmer and a typical teenager trying to decide where she'll attend college in the fall. 

"I just want to say that people with Down syndrome can do anything in their lives," she said. "They are who they are. They are amazing. Be kind to one another, and Down syndrome doesn't hold me back!"

The Miss Teen USA Pageant will broadcast live on the CW Network.

Kosmalski was crowned alongside Alysa Bainbridge, who won Miss Delaware USA 2024.  


Bainbridge is a social media specialist who is the founder of a non-profit called "Tyler's Triumph," which aims to provide support for people in recovery from mental illness and addiction. The organization was established in honor of her brother Tyler.    

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