As people around the country marked Veterans Day, retired Marine Corps Sergeant Rob Jones finished a grueling mission focused on fighting for his military brothers and sisters.
On Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, Jones crossed the make-shift finish line officially completing his 31st marathon in 31 days. A crowd bundled up in jackets and hats cheered on the double above-the-knee amputee and his fellow runners.
It was an emotional scene in our nation’s capital as Jones embraced his wife then thanked the crowd and all who came out to support him along the way this past month.
Over the course of 31 days, he ran more than 800 miles and battled through Texas heat, through rain and through Saturday’s below freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C.
Despite all that, Rob Jones knew he would finish this journey.
“Never doubted it because I had support and the mission of helping my brothers and my sister veterans with their struggles,” Jones explained after finishing his final run. “They struggle with a lot worse than what I’ve done this last month so just knowing that I was fighting for them and I had my support behind me, there was never a doubt in my mind.”
Many of the people who joined Rob for his runs this past month didn’t know him before, but said they were inspired by his determination and inspiration.
“This is the type of race that when you come out here, no one’s in it for themselves,” runner Benjamin Dowdeb said. “They’re all in it for Rob and the community as a whole and our country. So you know you’re going to come out here and meet some amazing people.”
For Jon Ellis, whose wife is a single above-the-knee amputee, running with Rob was extra special because he understands the day-to-day issues he has to deal with.
“I think he speaks to everyone, regardless of what they’re facing. Whether it’s something that’s physical, whether it’s some challenge that they haven’t accomplished yet and they see what he’s just put his mind to.” Ellis ran the marathon with Rob in Boston then joined him again for Saturday’s finale.
While Jones officially set off on the international journey in early October, his motivation for this mission started long before.
After joining the Marine Corps, Jones served as a combat engineer during deployments to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010. During that latter trip overseas, he lost both legs above the knee when he was hurt trying to clear a path through an area that had a buried explosive device.
During his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Jones was fitted with prosthetics and learned how to walk again with two bionic knees.
In 2013, he set out on a cross-country journey to bike across America while raising money for wounded veteran charities. Over the course of 181 days, Rob cycled 5,180 miles from Maine to California and raised $126,000.
It was the first segment of what he’s called the ‘Rob Jones Journey,’ and part of a personal goal to raise $1 million for wounded veteran charities.
The ‘Month of Marathons’ was the second part, but it certainly won’t be Rob’s last.
“I can guarantee you I’m going to keep fighting for veterans,” Jones said, “keep trying to inspire America in general and how that’s going to manifest, whether it’s going to be another thing like this or if it’s going to be some other fashion, I’ll be working on figuring that out.”