It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you see Corporal Rob Jones running his latest race on Belle Isle, Michigan.
Inspiring doesn’t seem large enough. Impossible seems too, well, too much. That’s because Jones makes the impossible seem possible — if you ask him about his 31 marathon journey over 31 days he makes it sound simple: “I’m doing it for a purpose.”
That purpose is simple: to save veterans. The reality is, it’s harder than words can describe. Rob Jones is a double amputee athlete who refuses to let his war wounds keep him down.
“Just because a veteran comes back and they’re wounded in some way — whether it’s psychological, mental or physical — that doesn’t mean they’re broken,” said Jones.
That’s the message behind Jones’ marathon. Each run is grueling, but at a time when 22 veterans are committing suicide daily Jones hopes that his message touches someone. The hope is someone realizes that they’re worth more than they realize.
“It never leaves you,” said Travis Peters, a Desert Storm veteran. “It never leaves you.”
Peters is a member of the Detroit Peace Peddlers. His group heard about Jones attempt and decided they wanted to be along for the ride — Jones encourages other runners and veterans to come out and meet with him, or run if they’re able.
Peters chose to ride his bike and clear a path.
“I have nothing but respect,” said Peters. “His honor, his dignity… it stirs something up inside of you, makes you feel proud.”
Jones didn’t set out to be anyone’s personal hero. The year was 2010. Jones, a member of the Marine Corps, was searching for IEDs in Afghanistan.
He was sent in to scan for the deadly bombs after a fellow Marine stepped on one — luckily it didn’t detonate. Jones wasn’t as lucky, he stepped on a mine that nearly took his life. Instead it took his legs.
His mom told Detroit-based WXYZ that she expected him to come home and that she would take care of him. That never happened. Less than two years after losing both of his legs, Jones was competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He took home a bronze medal.
His next move: riding a bike in the dead of winter more than 5,000 miles to raise money for veterans. Jones raised more than $125,000 for veterans charities during his bike ride. He’s hoping to take that total to $1 million by the end of his runs.
You can follow Jones on his journey throughout the 31 different cities by visiting his website. You can sign up to run with him. You can donate to charities and you can buy a t-shirt that spreads the word of his mission.
Jones is expected in Washington D.C. on November 11th for Veterans Day when he runs his final 26.2 miles.
You can visit Jones’ website, here: http://www.robjonesjourney.com/