AURORA, Colo. — A Colorado family is lighting up their community and giving back at the same time. The family is using their holiday display to honor their children, and pay it forward to a special organization.
"I’ve always idolized Clark Griswold," said Corey Christiansen, who admits he goes a little overboard for Christmas. "There are 45,000 lights in this year’s display."
Corey and his wife, Monica, have decked out their Aurora, Colorado, home with green dragons, purple rhinos and joy. She said the lights symbolize their son and daughter.
"Brady and Chloe are a light in our lives," Monica said.
Nine-year-old Brady and 7-year-old Chloe are their parents pride and joy.
"Our son was diagnosed with autism when he was 5 years old; our daughter when she was 3. Chloe is diagnosed as level 3, severe," Corey said.
Chloe has never spoken a word.
"That was a tough diagnosis to get. My wife and I walked out of the office after that and a lot of tears shed," he said.
Corey and Monica said the Autism Society of Colorado changed their lives. As a thank you, the Christiansen light display includes a "text to donate" sign.
"It's my gift to other people and hopefully they can understand the light that is the special needs community," Corey said.
The father said raising children with autism has been a challenge, but he wouldn’t change it for the world.
"We have found such amazing joy in all this, too. Both of our kids are the light in our lives," he said.
And now this happy home is serving as a beacon of light and hope for other families.
To donate to the Autism Society of Colorado, text "BRIGHTLIGHT" to 44321.
The Christiansen family raised $1,200 last year. They're hoping to top that this year.
"This is our way of giving back," Corey said. "We want to pay it forward."