Rob Jones lost his legs in Afghanistan in 2010 while working as a combat engineer in the Marine Corps. He was clearing out a dangerous area on his second deployment when an IED found him before he could find it. Now a double above-the-knee amputee on prosthetic legs, Jones isn’t sitting still. Most recently, he ran 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 cities.
His mission? To raise money for three charitable organizations that support military veterans and first responders, and their families.
“I realized pretty quickly that just because I was missing my legs above the knee now, that didn’t mean that my life’s mission had changed. I still wanted my life to be something I could be proud of,” he said in a YouTube video from the Marines. “I wanted my life to be something that made a difference in the world.”
Jones started the epic marathon quest in London, and then traveled back to the U.S. to hit the major U.S. cities, even making a quick stop in Toronto for 26.2 miles before finishing off the month-long journey in Washington D.C.
“I’m trying to just get a story out there about a veteran,” Jones told USA Today in November after his mission was complete. “Went to Afghanistan. Had a traumatic experience. Lost both my legs. But I was still able to come home and find my new way that I was going to contribute to my country and stay in the fight. I just want to get that story out there so people can use it.”
The 32-year-old Virginia native lived in an RV with his wife, Oksana Masters, who is also a double-leg amputee, his mother, and a friend supporting him every inch of those 9,600 miles he traveled. He got started at 7:00 a.m. each day and logged miles in parks or on trails. Along the way, fellow veterans, friends and strangers laced up their shoes to run with him.
“A guy in Boston who had terminal cancer ran with me,” he said on his blog. “I’ve had people run their first marathons with me, and a guy who ran his 295th.”
Excellent news! Official Rob Jones Journey:Month of Marathons tee shirts are now available. A portion of the sales will go to the charities I am supporting. Thanks to @lalotactical for believing in me enough to partner with me to make the shirts. Visit rjj.buzz/shirt to buy. Handsome model not included. . . . #RobJonesJourney #MonthOfMarathons #IRanWithRob #running #military #marines #usmc #fitness #inspirationalquotes
In the end, Jones finished on Veteran’s Day, and raised more than $200,000 for the Stephen Stiller Tunnel to Tower Foundation, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
This isn’t his first endurance outing for charity. In 2014, he biked 5,180 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine to Camp Pendleton, California, and raised $126,000 for three charities that aid wounded veterans.
Two years before that, he won a bronze medal in rowing at the Paralympic Games.
“I hope that a veteran who comes home psychologically or physically wounded will see what I’m doing, and realize that we aren’t broken or incapable of reintegrating into society,” he told Runner’s World.
Want to learn more about Jones? Check out this feature from Sports Illustrated: