It takes a special kind of family to turn sadness into light – and break a world record in the process. 

David and Janean Richards are doing just that in Forrest, Australia. Their holiday display of more than 500,000 lights has earned them a second listing in the Guinness Book of World Records.

“We first obtained the Guinness World Record for the most Christmas lights in 2011, then in 2012 the Gay family in New York won it off us,” David said.

The Richards decided to try for another record to raise awareness, and funds, for SIDS and Kids. Over the course of a week in October, the Richards, along with family, friends and volunteers, erected a massive display of more than 31 miles of light cables.

The result is a magical tunnel of lights, sparkling in time with music. David estimates that the display will receive 80,000 visitors before Boxing Day.

“We are collecting money at the gate, volunteers from SIDS and Kids are selling Rudolph noses and Christmas cards, and there’s a raffle and a sausage sizzle,” he adds. “It’s wonderful to watch people’s faces as they walk through, and then at the end you see the kids cry because they don’t want to leave.”

David and Janean became involved with SIDS and Kids in 2000 when they lost their infant son, Thomas, to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). “It is a wonderful charity, and the volunteers that work there look after people when they are their absolute lowest,” David said. “If we can help by raising some money to keep their good work going... it’s the least we can do.”

Although David said he's unlikely to put up the lights again in 2014, he might consider doing it all again in 2015.

“It takes about six days to take the whole thing down, and then I sleep for about three days,” he concludes. “It’s all a bit exhausting, but it’s worth it.”

Lighting by Numbers

2: Times the Richards family has set a Guinness World Record for the number of Christmas lights on a family home

532: Number of extension cords used for the display in 2013

779,000 (and counting): YouTube views of the ITN video of the display

12: Family members and friends who helped erect the display

80,000: People projected to visit the display in 2013

502,165: Light bulbs in the display

1.2: Miles of steel cable used in the display

31: Miles of light cables used in the display

6: Days it will take to remove the lights

3: Days of sleep David will need when it’s all over