Contestant with Down syndrome receives pageant spirit award

Mikayla Holmgren, center, accepts the "Spirit Award" during the 2018 Miss Minnesota USA contest in Burnsville, Minn. on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Presenting the award are Tori Triffin, Miss Minnesota Teen 2017, left, and Meridith Gould, Miss Minnesota USA 2017. Holmgren, 22, made history Sunday night when she became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Holmgren, who also is believed to be the first woman with Down syndrome to compete nationwide, was named the recipient of the Miss Minnesota USA Spirit Award and Director's Award. (Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press via AP)

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (AP) — A 22-year-old woman has become the first contestant with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Mikayla Holmgren received the spirit award and the director’s award at Sunday night pageant at the Ames Center in Burnsville. The audience gave Holmgren a standing ovation as she accepted the awards.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the nomination letter for the spirit award says Holmgren is humble, puts others first and has the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile and excitement in her heart. Holmgren is from Marine on St. Croix.

Kalie Wright of Eagle Bend was named Miss Minnesota USA 2018. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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