Miss Minnesota USA Contestant With Down Syndrome Partners With Best Buddies For Ambassador Position

Future Productions, which produces MISS MINNESOTA USA® to determine who will represent the state at MISS USA® each year, confirmed today that Best Buddies International has chosen one of their contestants, Mikayla Holmgren, as their newest ambassador. Holmgren is the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant. With her new role as an ambassador, Holmgren will support Best Buddies mission of enhancing the lives of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement and creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD.

A graduate of St. Croix Preparatory Academy, Holmgren currently attends the Bethel University B.U.I.L.D. Program, a two-year certificate program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. With her experience as an aide at St. Croix Prep, Valley Preschool and the Child Development Center at Bethel University, she plans to eventually receive a certificate in Early Childhood Education. Additionally, Holmgren is very passionate about the arts. Her love of dance has contributed to her confidence on stage and since age six, she has been trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and pointe.

As a Best Buddies ambassador, Holmgren will assist their expansion efforts to establish the organization’s first office in the state of Minnesota. Through her work and with this new initiative in the state, thousands of individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities will benefit from Best Buddies’ friendship programs in middle schools, high schools and colleges, their leadership development and advocacy programs as well as their renowned Best Buddies Jobs program.
“Expansion efforts in Minnesota are strong and steadfast as Best Buddies programs are requested consistently throughout the state. Through our partnership with Mikayla and with the Miss Minnesota USA pageant’s advocacy, our dreams of establishing a Best Buddies office in Minnesota will happen and we will be able to continue to change the lives of thousands with disabilities," said Vallye Adams the National Director of Expansion & Mission Advancement for Best Buddies International.

In addition to her new ambassador role, Holmgren has been invited to represent Minnesota and the partnership between Best Buddies and The Miss Universe Organization at the 2017 Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference at Indiana University July 21 – 24. Mikayla will have the opportunity to showcase her passion for dancing and meet with her peers to share her leadership platform that will be featured at MISS MINNESOTA USA®, to the over 2,500 student leaders, volunteers and international delegates from over 22 countries around the world attending the conference. Mikayla added, “I am excited to represent Best Buddies and to be a part of their team. I will make new friends and learn leadership skills that will help me in my future.”

MISS MINNESOTA USA® will take place at the Ames Center in Burnsville on Sunday, November 26, 2017. Meridith Gould of Minneapolis will crown a new representative to compete for the opportunity of becoming the next Miss USA. Mikayla will join women from across the state in hopes of capturing the crown.

“Mikayla is such an incredible young woman and she has what it takes to compete at the state pageant this fall. She is the epitome of what The Miss Universe Organization looks for in the contestants – someone who is confident and aspirational,” said Denise Wallace, Executive Co-Director of MISS MINNESOTA USA®. “We look forward to welcoming Mikayla and the other women from across the state to this year's event. The pageant encourages women supporting other women and our contestants will have the chance to improve their interview skills, build self-confidence, step outside their comfort zone, meet new friends, and challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves. Mikayla may be the first, but she certainly won’t be the last woman with a developmental disability to compete. Her decision to take the stage will pave the way for others to follow suit,” adds Wallace.

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