COLUMBIA - J'den Cox will have tons of family supporting him when he competes in the Olympic Games on Saturday.
Eleven family members, including his mom, dad, and siblings, will be flying from Columbia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to see the Mizzou wrestling star compete for the gold medal in the 86-kg (189 pound) weight class.
Along with his mom, dad, two brothers, and two sisters going, J'den's grandma, uncle, sister-in-law, great aunt, and great uncle are also heading to Rio for the games.
Cox's great aunt, Cindy Mutrux, started a GoFundMe page to get J'den's mom, dad, and sister-in law to Rio for the games. The page attracted a lot of attention, and ultimately Shelter Insurance, based in Columbia, took notice.
To help out the Cox family, Shelter held a "dress down" event. If employees donated $3 to the GoFundMe page, they were allowed to "dress down," or wear less professional clothes. The event was a success and raised nearly $2,000 for the trip. The money was used for tickets to J'Den's event.
Shelter Insurance Public Relations Director Jay MacLellan said, "Knowing that we have a young man here in town like J'den Cox who's been very successful and now has a chance to win a gold medal, it certainly makes us excited to get behind him and raise the money like we did to help send his family there to watch him and support him while he's there."
Cindy Mutrux added, "The community, the state of Missouri, and the whole United States reached out to us and have blessed us with this trip. We just feel very blessed that all 11 of us are able to board that plane and go watch him compete."
A lot of concerns have been brought up about the city of Rio, especially regarding the health and safety of the athletes and tourists visiting for the games. Ross Mutrux, J'den's great uncle and Cindy Mutrux's wife, said they're not going to let those fears stop them from experiencing the Olympic games.
"We're not sure what to anticipate," Ross Mutrux said. "We're told that the Olympic village is great. We're told to be careful outside the Olympic village. We've got events planned, and we're not going to let it hold us back."
Cindy Mutrux added "We're not going to live our life in fear. We're going to go and have fun. We're going to support our Olympian."
While the family will be in Rio for a week, Cindy Mutrux made it clear what the trip is all about.
"This trip is intended to go see J'den. It's not a vacation," she said. "We're going to go for one purpose and one purpose only and that's to see J'den on the big stage."
The family is heading to Rio on Wednesday, August 17th.