by Eric Dehm
The average person might let a devastating injury, one that ends with the loss of both legs, slow them down.
But Rob Jones is not an average person.
Jones served as a combat engineer from 2006 until his honorable discharge in 2011. It was at that point that instead of taking pity on himself, Jones began making strides towards becoming one of the most recognizable faces raising awareness for disabled veterans.
What types of “strides” you ask?
* He competed and won a bronze medal in rowing at the Paralympic Games in 2012
* Rode his bike across the U.S. — from Bar Harbor, Maine to Camp Pendleton, California
* And climbed the steps of NYC’s Freedom Tower.
Clearly, he gained media coverage along the way… something he didn’t necessarily want, but understands its importance for his overall mission.
And the spotlight shining on Jones has helped others in the veteran community. From his cross-country bike ride, he raised $126,000 for three veterans’ charities, and hopes to raise even more during his upcoming “month of marathons,” where he will push himself to his physical limit by running the equivalent of a marathon, in different locations, every day for a full month.
Jones says he wants to raise money for charities because he experienced first-hand the positive effects they can have.
“The VA and the military have treated me excellently, I get everything I could possibly want,” Jones says. “But there are times where the VA doesn’t have enough resources, or the military doesn’t have enough resources to do absolutely everything that you could possibly need. That’s where these charities step in and they fulfill these roles that the VA and the military can’t.”
And to raise money, Jones took advantage of his knack for enduring difficulty and pushing through adversity.
After all, this was a Marine who lost his legs, something that’s driven many vets to a dark place. However, he still maintains a cheery disposition and outgoing attitude that you notice as soon as you’re in a room with him. Even so, when doing something like riding a bike 3,300 miles, there’s bound to be discomfort at best… flat out excruciating pain at worst. But it doesn’t deter or slow down Jones.
“When I’m in pain or thinking I want to stop? I just remember the reason I started doing it,” Jones says. “I started to help other wounded veterans and that was more important to me than being comfortable. So it was never really that hard for me to keep going.”
And he’ll keep going, and pushing himself as he runs the “month of marathons.” Of course he could have chosen to run 30 marathons in a 30-day month, or taken it “easy” by doing it in February where there are only 28 days. But taking it “easy” is clearly not Jones’ style.
“If you’re trying to challenge yourself, you gotta make it as hard as you can, within your means, so that’s why I picked the longest possible month.”
He’ll challenge not only himself, but people’s perceptions of what a disabled veteran can do when he kicks of his marathons on Oct. 12 in London before returning to the U.S. to run the next day in Philadelphia and then 29 more major cities across the country.
Track Jones’ progress by visiting the Rob Jones Journey website.