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Teen with Down syndrome crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA

by | May 16, 2024

By Cassy Fiano-Chesser

Kayla Kosmalski, a 17-year-old teenager with Down syndrome, has just made history. She was just crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA, and will become the first contestant with Down syndrome in the national Miss USA pageant.

Kosmalski has been a busy girl — she is an honors student, a swimmer, and a cheerleader, in addition to working as a model. She’s about to graduate high school, and has been accepted to 11 colleges. On top of all of that, she decided to compete in the Miss Delaware Teen USA pageant… and won.

She told Delaware Live that her crown is dedicated to all people with Down syndrome and disabilities. “Everyone can do anything if they dream big and achieve goals,” she said.

In the audience, her mother, Amy Kosmalski, was sobbing as she watched her daughter win. As Kayla walked across the stage, she spotted her mom and pointed to her, joking with Delaware Live that Amy “has been crying my entire life.”

When Kayla was born, Amy said she was devastated, being told constantly all the things her daughter would not be able to do.

“I would cry in the shower for the first couple of weeks,” she said. “A few weeks into loving her and having her at home, I thought this is not what Down syndrome has to be. I am going to love her. I am going to encourage her the same as I will any other child that we’re blessed to have. Kayla’s going to write her own story.”

In an emotional Facebook post, Amy celebrated Kayla’s win.

“To all of those that have believed in her, loved on her and always lifted her up, thank you…this title belongs, in part, to all of you,” she wrote. “To all of those that didn’t see her abilities or bullied her… this title also belongs, in part, to all of you. This title is a result of years of overcoming… years of having to prove herself simply because of her diagnosis of Down syndrome. In a society and world so focused on perfection and beauty, it’s not easy having a disability and being seen for all that you are and can be. People first see the label and diagnosis and make assumptions. I’m sure people will also believe she got here because she has Down syndrome, and that’s ok too. But the truth is… this girl got to this moment as a result mainly because of all that she has endured and all that have loved her.”

She continued:

Kayla embodies this title. She always has. We’ve always called her our princess since the day she was born. Now she truly is wearing her crown as our Princess Kayla. It’s time to have the most incredible year of your life, Kayla. We are so very proud of you. You smashed that glass ceiling, beautiful!!!! So many young girls just added a new picture on their vision board because of you, our dreamer and goal getter!

Kayla is set to compete in the Miss USA pageant in August, and she’s prepared to make her mark as she appears on millions of television screens. “I have a disability,” she said, “and my disability can change the world.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Down Syndrome