The woman with Down syndrome is the first to compete in the Miss United States state contest



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Future Productions, LLC (MINNEAPOLIS) – Mikayla Holmgren made history on Sunday as the first young woman with Down syndrome to compete in a state Miss USA contest.

The 22-year-old did not need to win the crown in order to be recognized with special awards when he brought home the spirit of the Miss USA award and the director's prize.

"It's really fun," he said. "As I do more contests and I'm really proud of myself … this is my dream," Holmgren told ABC Saint Paul, Minnesota, affiliate KSTP-TV.

The spirit of the Miss USA award is determined by the judges based on letters that have been sent by the family and friends of the contestants.

One of Holmgren's friends from her dance clbades wrote a letter that was read aloud during the ceremony, said Denise Wallace, co-director of the contest.

[Her friend] wrote about how Mikayla lights a room and does not expect people to treat her differently. He is an incredible spirit, "Wallace told ABC News, saying the letter reflected everything they felt that embraced the spirit of Miss America.

The director's award recognizes a young woman who stands out at the event.

] "Everyone loved her, every contestant, every family," said Wallace de Holmgren, adding that he feels Holmgren is "magnetic."

The audience gave Holmgren a standing ovation when he accepted the awards. Contests is one of her pbadions, Holmgren told KSTP-TV.

Her previous parade experience included her competition in the Miss Amazing 2015 contest, a contest for women with disabilities, Wallace said.

This is the second consecutive year in the Miss Minnesota USA contest is making history.

Last year's competition featured the first Somali-American woman wearing a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA competition, Halima Aden.

the semifinals in the top 15 but he did not. We reached the first five places.

Since then, Aden has signed with a modeling agency and has appeared on numerous magazine covers, including Vogue, and his success has inspired others to follow in his footsteps, Wallace said.

Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA of the year included nine Muslim women, seven of whom chose to wear their hijab during the competition, and Wallace said that Aden's success reminded women that the door is open for them to compete

One of the Muslim women competing this year was among the top five finalists, earning fourth place.

The competition is held annually and consists of three segments: evening dress, swimsuit / sportswear and an interview.

Kalie Wright was crowned Miss Minnesota USA on Sunday while Peyton Schroeder was crowned Miss Minnesota Teen USA. Both will now advance to compete in next year's national competitions.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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