“When you focus on someone's disability you'll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness," Yvonne Pierre said about her child with Down Syndrome in her memoir The Day My Soul Cried.
And that's just what a 22-year-old college student from Minnesota wanted to prove.
Mikayla Holmgren made history on Sunday night at the Arms Centre in Burnsville for the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant competition when she competed as the first woman with Down Syndrome.
Mikayla's been a dancer since she was 6-years-old.
"Dancing is a good outlet for me. It's how I express myself," she said. "It's my talent and I want to show people what I can do and how I can give more."'
She is currently studying at Bethel University's Inclusive Learning and Development program. She's an active campus member who interns at the university’s child care center, and is also an ambassador for a nonprofit that fosters relationships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Mikayla had competed in junior pageants and was crowned Miss Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing, a pageant for woman with disabilities, in 2015. That same year, she wanted to challenge herself even further.
She "bugged her mom" for days to let her apply to the Miss Minnesota USA 2018 pageant.
Mikayla knew she had to test her luck and apply because being on stage is her passion, and not only that, she wants to change the way society views people with disabilities.
Then the answer she had been waiting for finally arrived.
"I wrote that she had Down syndrome and thought they would pass her by but they decided they wanted her to be a part of it," her mom, Sandi Holmgren, told BuzzFeed News. "It took me a few weeks to realize the enormity of it and what a big deal it was for her to be in."
Here are some beautiful pictures of Mikayla during the competition on Sunday night.
Mikayla won the Spirit Award and the Director's Award. As she received her special honors, she received a standing ovation from the audience.
The blond beauty is not stopping there!
"I want to do some modeling and more dancing," she said, mentioning that she choreographs all her routines. "I have a big future."