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VFW Magazine February 2018 : Page 16

PHOTO COURTESY ROB JONES PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB JONES TAKING ON ‘TOUGH’ CHALLENGES Rob Jones set a goal to participate in the 2012 Paralympics, deciding to do so because he saw an “opportunity” in what happened. “I wanted to try something that I knew was tough,” Jones said. Jones represented the United States on its Para Rowing team in London with Oksana Masters, and the team garnered the first U.S. medal for the trunk and arms mixed double sculls event. The following year, Jones switched to biking, with the goal of cycling across the country. From Oct. 14, 2013, to April 13, 2014, Jones biked nearly 5,200 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Camp Pendleton, Calif., raising $ 126,000 for charities that assist wounded veterans. Jones transitioned to biking because, he said, he relearned to ride a bike dur -ing therapy. He also thought it could be a means to start his mission of raising awareness about the “capabilities” of wounded veterans. “I just wanted to get that message out there more and more, and just show other wounded veterans that life isn’t over until it’s over,” Jones said. “You just have to keep finding your new way of contributing.” Three years lapsed between Jones’ bike ride and the more recent string of marathons, but he said he doesn’t plan out his challenges. “I just wait for inspiration to strike,” Jones said. Daniel Jones and Rob Jones (not related) served together with K Co., 3rd Bn., 7th Marines in July 2010 in Musa Qala, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Later that month, while clearing improvised explosive devices in the area, Rob suffered catastrophic wounds when one exploded. He subsequently lost both legs to amputations. “It reminded me that our freedom is held together by ordinary people and their families, who volunteer to make extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf,” said Dorre, who is not a veteran. First responders, service person-nel and veterans also supported Rob throughout his journey. “He meets these people and embraces them as friends,” Pam said, “and for me and Rob’s mom, Carol, we see the impact it has, and it’s really emotional for both of us, too.” Matthew Manke, who also heard about Jones’ mission on the Jocko Podcast, joined Jones for the Portland marathon and said the mission “would appear to be an insurmountable task.” Regardless, Manke, who is not a veter-an but whose father served in the Navy, said he sees it as a journey, not a race. “It’s awesome to see somebody doing something that challenging,” Manke said. “You don’t get that many opportunities to see someone trying to achieve greatness.” ÔA VOICE FOR PEOPLEÕ Though the month of marathons began in the UK for logistical reasons, Jones said what he’s running for also is a “worldwide veterans issue.” “Veterans have the same challenges whether they’re from the UK, Canada or America,” Jones said, “and we aren’t fighting these wars by ourselves.” Rob’s mission, according to Pam, is an example of a person overcoming “some-thing really intense and profound in their life.” Rather than letting the loss of his legs “crush him,” Pam said, it has made him stronger. “He knows he can be a voice for peo-ple,” Pam said, “and that’s why I think this story has the capability of pulling people out of some really dark places.” Rob also wants to provide “inspiration and hope” to other veterans, according to Pam. “[He wants to show] that you can still have a massive impact in the world around you being with your family, your community, and Rob’s just trying to push himself out of his comfort zone to be an example to other people,” Pam said. For more information about Jones, including a listing of the charities he supports, visit J EMAIL 16 • VFW  • FEBRUARY 2018

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