Since Marine on St. Croix resident Mikayla Holmgren was born, she’s been on a mission to prove her doctors wrong. Born with Down syndrome and three weeks premature, they didn’t know if she’d walk or talk. Twenty years later, it’s safe to say Holmgren has completed her mission: she’s an all-star athlete involved in dance, gymnastics and golf at the Transition Program at St. Croix Preparatory Academy in Baytown Township, dances with the Inspiration Performing Arts Center in Mahtomedi, and participates in adaptive cheerleading. This year, Mikayla added one more accomplishment to her already lengthy resume: pageant queen.
“At Special Olympics, someone gave me a flyer about the Minnesota Miss Amazing pageant,” says Sandi Holmgren, Mikalya’s mother. “I researched it that night and really liked everything I read. It’s a volunteer-based organization that was started by a 13-year-old who wanted to start a pageant for girls and women with special needs.”
One of the reasons her parents entered their daughter in the pageant was for the interview skills. Mikayla was excited about dancing. “The talent portion was so fun,” Mikayla says. “I just loved it.”
Mikayla was first introduced to dance 12 years ago. Her parents read an article about a dance instructor whose daughter had special needs and benefited from her dance involvement. Mikayla adored her first ballet class and eventually went on to study jazz, hip-hop, tap, pointe and lyrical dance.
This year, Mikayla’s lyrical dance routine, paired with her eloquent interview and confident evening gown portion, earned her the title of Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing 2015. She went on to represent Minnesota in the national Junior Miss Amazing pageant in Los Angeles in July. “I was so happy, it was awesome—amazing,” Mikayla says.
Contestants from 30 participating states gathered together at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for the national pageant, which coincided with the Special Olympics World Games. “It was very exciting,” says Sandi. “All of the participants were amazing and they became great friends.”
In the fall of 2016, Mikayla will attend Bethel University in Arden Hills to participate in their Inclusive Learning and Development program. “I’m going into teaching,” Mikayla says. “I love working with kids.”
With two pageants under her belt, countless dance routines choreographed, and an outgoing, enthusiastic attitude, there is no doubt that Mikayla will leave her own mark on Bethel.
“We were gifted with this beautiful young lady,” Sandi says. “She’s been a fighter ever since she was in the NICU. She’s a trailblazer and she was put on this Earth for a reason.”