I grew up on a farm in the small town of Lovettsville, Virginia. I graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 2003, and from Virginia Tech in 2007. In my junior year at Virginia Tech, I joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a combat engineer at Bravo Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in Roanoke, VA. In the Marine Corps, combat engineers are responsible for a multitude of disciplines but the primary role that I and my fellow combat engineers undertook was the use of explosives, and the detection of buried IEDs and weapons caches.
I deployed to Habbaniyah, Iraq in 2008, and again to Delaram/Sangin, Afghanistan in 2010. During my deployment to Afghanistan while operating as a part of a push into Taliban territory, I was tasked with clearing an area with a high likelihood of containing an IED. It was in this capacity that I was wounded in action by a land mine. The injury resulted in a left knee dis-articulation and a right above knee amputation of my legs.
I was taken to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD for the initial phases of my recovery, which consisted primarily of healing and closing my wounds. I was then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the remainder of my rehabilitation. At Walter Reed I was fitted with prosthetics, and worked very hard to learn how to walk with two bionic knees. I also used the time to relearn how to do other things with my new challenge including riding a bicycle, running, and rowing. I took naturally to rowing, and since I am always in search of a challenge that I can use to become better, I decided to train for the 2012 Paralympics.
After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in December, 2011, I immediately moved to Florida to train with my rowing partner, Oksana. We spent five months there, and during that time period won the trunk and arms mixed double sculls trial race held by USRowing to become the USRowing national team for our boat class, and also won the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Belgrade to qualify for the Paralympics. We then moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to continue training until the Paralympics in September, 2012. Our hard work paid off for us as we brought home a bronze medal in our event. I continued in the sport of rowing through the 2013 season, where my partner and I placed 4th in the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
On October 14, 2013 I began a solo supported bike ride across America which started in Bar Harbor, Maine, and ended in Camp Pendleton, California. The ride was 5,180 miles long and completed on April 13, 2014, a total of 181 days after it began. Over the course of the ride, along with my team, I raised $126,000 for the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Ride 2 Recovery, three charities which aid wounded veterans.
Between Fall 2014, and Summer 2016, I trained in the sport of triathlon with the intention to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games. I saw considerable personal improvement, but was unable to qualify.
Currently I am planning to complete a month long back to back marathon challenge in which I will run 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different major cities, once again raising awareness and funds for wounded veteran charities.
Rob Jones Journey: Month of Marathons
In the winter of 2013-2014 I set out on my bike and cycled across America raising money for wounded veteran charities. I named this ride the Rob Jones Journey. I am excited to announce today that in the fall of 2017, I intend to complete the next leg of this journey with a new challenge. This challenge will require me to run 31 marathons in 31 consecutive days in 31 different major cities in America and abroad. I choose 31 because I want to complete a full month of marathons. The way that this will work is that I will wake up in a city, run a marathon, travel to the next city, and repeat until I am finished. These marathons will be undertaken on my own, and will not be run during any organized marathons, unless my schedule coincides with one of these organized runs.
I will have several objectives for this challenge. First, I am always seeking to improve myself both physically and mentally, and this is best achieved through struggle. Such an undertaking will demand deeds of fortitude, endurance, and perseverance, both in the physical realm, and also in terms of the mind. I hope that through these deeds I will become a better version of myself. And by being so, improve those around me and encourage them to do the same.
Second, with the Rob Jones Journey, I set out to raise $1,000,000 for wounded veteran charities. As of now, $125,000 has been raised. This leaves me with $875,000 left to go. I will continue this endeavor with the marathon challenge. I will be supporting the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Third, I hope to raise awareness concerning the struggle of America’s veteran population. A recent VA study estimates that twenty veterans from among every generation commit suicide every day. It is a tragedy that America is losing this many of its finest people, and we need to do all we can to halt these losses. Not only do I intend to raise awareness of this issue with the civilian population, but I intend to raise awareness in the veteran population as well. I intend to show veterans through the amount of support that I personally receive throughout this challenge that America loves her veterans, and the American people love their veterans, and want to help and support them. I mean to show my fellow veterans that they are not alone, and only need ask in order to receive all of the support that they need. By running in both London and Toronto, I plan to also raise these issues in the populaces of America’s allies that I have fought alongside, and who face these same issues.
Fourth, I hope to incite action among our citizenry. It is one thing to be aware of an issue, but to make a considerable contribution is on the next level. I hope that by setting an example, I will inspire others to follow in my footsteps, and make sacrifices of both time and effort toward a cause in which they believe. It doesn’t matter what the cause is specifically, as long as the person is contributing with full dedication. There are over 300,000,000 Americans, and if each one of us were to dedicate ourselves to a cause, many of our country’s problems, for example homelessness and starvation, would be improved to the point of elimination.
I received overwhelming support during my bike ride, and am incredibly thankful for the encouragement and sacrifice that others have given me so far. I am looking forward to making even more friends, and being influenced by even more generous individuals as I proceed on this next challenge. I have many details left to iron out, and will be updating as I find solutions. I will also be encouraging people to join me on this journey either by running along with me, or with support from afar. I do not expect everyone to run a full marathon, but I do expect everyone to run a distance that challenges them whether that is 5k, 21k or 100 feet.
For more information, schedule of runs, and ways to donate, Click Here