Minnesota woman competes to become the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit model with Down syndrome


SAINT PAUL, Minnesota (NewsNation Now) – A 26-year-old woman with Down syndrome is making international waves as she competes to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. Mikayla Holmgren says she wants to represent inclusiveness.

“I love being in front of the camera and I just want to do it. I just want to be more involved in modeling because I’ve done a lot of photo shoots and a lot of radio shoots. And that stuck with me every time that I’m going, ”the model said.

“I want him [add] more diversity… all women deserve to be celebrated, ”she said.

She did Miss Amazing in 2015 and then entered her first Miss USA state pageant. She made international headlines as the first woman with Down’s syndrome to compete in the system for the title of Miss Minnesota USA.

“I got to see all my directors and all my friends. It’s cool. It’s really cool to be on stage and have fun… and the cameras, ”she said.

Mikayla has completed her video submission for Sports Illustrated. She even chose the swimsuit she prefers for the audition with her mother.

According to the CDC, each year, approximately 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome. Scientists estimate that Down syndrome occurs in about 1 in 700 babies.

“When we first found out it was of course a shock. But luckily growing up, I had a few women in my life who introduced me to people with Down syndrome, so I wasn’t afraid to go out. So when she was born, that’s when we decided to treat her like any other child. Her Down syndrome was secondary, it wasn’t who she was, ”her mother Sandi Holmgren said.

Her mother says she is always nervous when her daughter competes or models. Her hope is that she will shine on stage through it all.

“Let them try whatever they want to try. Let them find out what they like and don’t like. And be very supportive of them, be their advocate and help them achieve whatever they want to achieve, ”said Sandi Holmgren.

She says she wants to be in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to inspire others to be empowered and encourage them to achieve their dreams.

She says the two pieces help show off her muscles and all of her physical training. Mikayla Holmgren says that where she succeeds or not, she will continue to share the message of inclusion.

Mikayla’s Sports Illustrated submission can be found here


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