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LAKE WINNEBEGO, MO (KCTV) -
Tuesday's weather was great for skiing with the fresh snow on the ground. We found plenty of skiers on the water as they raised money for a great cause.
"It's pretty cold, pretty cold," said wakeboarder Zach Williams.
For the past seven years, water skiers have come to Lake Winnebego for "Freezin' for a Reason." It's a fundraiser for the Cox family and their three children.
To celebrate the last seven New Year's, Lake Winnebego water skiers have been Freezin For a Reason, a fundraiser for the Cox family, and their three children who have Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome or SDS, which is a rare congenital bone disorder.
"This community is just so warm-hearted, this family really needs help. Their medical expenses are more than some people make in a year," said Jennifer Noone, Freezin' For a Reason coordinator. "They are three very sick children. We decided to help them out and raise money for them because their expenses are huge."
Chris Cox and his family lived at Lake Winnebego until 2006 when they moved to North Carolina to be closer to Duke University doctors, who are treating the children's condition.
"The best box they can put them in, which they really don't fit into is called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome," Cox said. "We're still searching for the right diagnosis. We just don't know. Doctors all over the world are searching for it."
Jacob just turned 19 years old. He is very ill and struggling. He was unable to make the trip. Grace, 15, came to the fundraiser, which she loves attending, and is doing well. Samuel is 11. The three are homeschooled so they can avoid germs.
The Winnebego Water Wizards threw together the first fundraiser in 2006. It's grown over the years - this year, 20 skiers jumped in, hoping to cover some of the cost of the numerous injections and biopsies the Cox kids endure year after year.
"I don't know how to adequately verbalize my emotions toward this and what it means to my family," Cox said. "More so than financially, bringing my kids to see the people who are here for them."
Supporters say even though the Cox family lives on the East Coast now, they still love the family and want to help out.
Cox says that support takes on a different meaning when people are willing to jump into 33-degree water for you and your family.
"All my friends, family, neighbors, this is still home. We couldn't have made it. The funds they've raised have literally saved my kids' lives," Cox said. "It's hard as a dad to swallow your pride, but when it comes to your kids, it's not too hard to do.... It's hard to come home. This is home. We only get to come here once a year. What I wouldn't give to be able to move back."
Neighbors who weren't brave enough to risk hypothermia still came down to the shore for a potluck lunch and auction.
"The whole community comes out. It's one of the best parts of living out here," Noone said.
Freezin' for a Reason raised about $10,000 Tuesday afternoon.