While most people string light-up icicles along their rooftops, Jordan Maywald spent the winter break creating a 2.5 acre light display at his family home in Austin and raising money for charity along the way.
On Dec. 9, construction science sophomore Maywald was awarded first place on the national ABC-TV show “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” At 20 years old, he became the youngest champion in the show’s history, winning $50,000.
Stretched across Maywald’s property was a colorful Christmas display that showcased the likes of Santa Claus and Snoopy. Despite his young age, Maywald was not new to putting up lights, as he has been building large-scale light displays on his own for over a decade.
“It was a major accomplishment because I have been putting up lights since a very young age and started doing it by myself when I was nine years old,” Jordan said. “I got to show my display to the nation. It was also cool to find out that I am the youngest winner in the show’s history.”
The sheer size of the light display earned strong reactions from friends, family and admirers, and he built it as large as he could for that very purpose, Maywald said.
“I wanted to create a display everyone enjoyed and could walk through,” Maywald said. “It brings so many people back to their childhood and we see so many smiles.”
The ABC-TV show has been on air for seven seasons, for all of which Maywald had his eyes on the grand prize. Maywald said the inspiration behind his award-winning display stemmed from childhood passions and his love for the show.
In addition to his award-winning night last December, Maywald has spent the past five years raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. To date, he has collected over $75,000, $45,000 of which was raised during the last holiday season. Thanks to Maywald’s donations, 12 wishes have been granted.
“The money we turn in mostly comes from people that visit the [light] display and drop a donation in our box, and some comes from generous donors online,” Maywald said. “Prior to this year, we have granted a total of six wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We were able to send two kids to Disney, one to New York and the other to Japan.”
In between his continued efforts for charity and using some of his prize money for a brand new truck, Maywald said he wants to raise even more money going into the new year.
“In 2020, I am looking forward to continuing my education and creating a bigger display next year so I can grant even more wishes,” Maywald said.