By Amanda Boston
Coinciding with the release of his new book Capital Gaines, Chip Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper launched his ChipStarter contest. The contest invited others with big dreams to pitch their ideas through a two-minute video with the hopes of receiving financial backing.
Chip and his wife Joanna star on a reality television show in Waco, Texas where they take the worst house on the block and transform it into something beautiful. The two have been transparent about their faith in God and continuously acknowledge God for their success.
Likewise, the couple has not forgotten those who came alongside them financially and invested in their dream. From this posture of gratitude, Chip and Joanna conceived the ChipStarter contest as a way to give back by making someone else’s dream a reality.
After reviewing more than 2,700 video submissions, the couple selected six finalists and flew them to the Lone Star State for the big reveal. Alexis Vazquez, a Bloomingdale High School graduate, was one of the six finalists.
Since a sophomore in high school, Vazquez has owned her own photography business. The 24-year-old is a visual storyteller who creates narratives through use of photography. Vazquez’s love for God and her craft have led her to trot around the globe as a missionary serving others and chronicling their stories of faith.
For the past four years, Vazquez has volunteered as a photographer for the Tim Tebow’s Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic in Jacksonville. Through her service with the Tim Tebow Foundation, Vazquez witnessed metaphorical mountains move through faith in Jesus Christ.
“I got a kick in the gut from the Holy Spirit,” said Vazquez. “I felt that I was to take everything I learned about mountains spiritually and apply it physically. So I decided that I would climb a mountain while fundraising $25,000 for the Tim Tebow Foundation.”
Vazquez aspires to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
“People run marathons for charities, so I thought why not climb a mountain. I hope to inspire others to conquer their own mountains,” remarked Vazquez.
Vazquez continued, “I have this goal of raising $25,000 for the foundation, and my mentality was to go big or stay home. I wanted to do something that I knew only God could do.”
With little momentum in sponsorship, Vazquez asked God to show up big. He did. Through a subscriber email from the Fixer Upper show, she discovered the ChipStarter contest. The email detailed the contest and in it had one phrase, which immediately caught her attention. The email asked, “Want to climb a mountain?” Vazquez viewed this as a sign from God and submitted her video.
On October 10, Vazquez received word that she was a finalist. Chip and Joanna flew Vazquez along with the other finalists to Waco to pitch their dreams. Instead of one winner, all six finalists went home as winners.
Vazquez was awarded $14,000 to assist with expenses related to the climb and jumpstart her fundraising campaign for the Tim Tebow Foundation. The ChipStarter winnings will be more than enough to cover her climbing expenses.
“It was so surreal while at the same time, it felt so natural. The way they are portrayed on TV with Chip as the goofy one and Joanna as a little more reserved is exactly how they are in reality. They were amazing in person and so encouraging,” said Vazquez.
Vazquez would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2018 but still needs to achieve her goal of $25,000 for Tim Tebow Foundation. To donate, visit Vazquez’s Ascent to Mount Kilimanjaro’s donation page. All donations go directly to the Tim Tebow Foundation’s outreach initiatives.