Miss Minnesota USA features first Down syndrome entrant

A young woman is celebrating in Minnesota after becoming the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

BURNSVILLE, MINNESOTA (REUTERS) - For Mikayla Holmgren, competing in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant was not only exciting - it was history-making.

Says Ms Holmgren: "I'm really excited. I'm really excited."

Mikayla is the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the pageant.

Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant, says: "Anybody who spends just five minutes with her knows that she's the right person to be the first to represent a community of people who need to see themselves doing something like this."

The 22-year-old from Marine on St. Croix in eastern Minnesota walked away with the Spirit Award and the Director's Award. Although she says she is happy just to have earned a spot on stage.

Says Ms Holmgren: "It's really, really fun. I love stage. It's why I do this. I'm so proud of myself."

And she says she wants to keep competing and hopefully break new ground for others with Down syndrome.