CHARLOTTE — A former Marine who lost his legs in combat, Rob Jones, ran his 29th out of 31 marathons in as many days in Charlotte last week as a part of his Month of Marathons journey.
“Plenty of Americans want to help veterans and that’s one thing I want to prove doing this,” said Jones.
According to Pam Jones, Rob’s wife, Charlotte was the largest crowd they have had on their journey thus far. From veterans and the Queens University track and field team to military supporters, all the way to a 7-week-old baby girl, all were at the race to support or run beside Jones.
He wrapped up his successful journey on Saturday, running his 31st marathon on the National Mall on Veterans Day.
“We are just really inspired by this story and coming up on Veterans Day we felt it was very important to support Rob and veterans,” 14-year-old Charlotte runner Jake Honeycutt said. Honeycutt, who had never ran a marathon, planned to run the first loop and with his father.
A lot of preparation went into this journey, and Jones’ wife and mother has helped him every step of the way.
“I drive the RV and coordinate with the media now, but before we started I did meal-prep and planned the month ahead… all Rob has to focus on is running, eating, sleeping and taking to the cameras,” said Pam Jones.
Coordinating with the media is extremely important. Every time Jones is seen on television there is a massive boost in donations, and raising money for wounded veterans is one of his goals on this journey and in life.
“Currently he has raised about $120,000,” said Pam Jones. “He has set a goal to raise $1 million in his lifetime, and in 2013 he raised $125,000 when he rode his bike across the country.”
Carol Miller, Jones’ mother, joins him on his journey as his personal massage therapist, and sometimes she finds it hard to let him go run even though he is in pain or the weather is bad.
“It has been a real privilege… it is important not to be negative for him,” said Miller. “I try and let him do his thing even if I am sitting back here nervous.”
Jones has been an athlete since he was discharged from the Marines. He has been on a rowing team that placed fourth in the 2013 World Championship, has biked across the United States, and has completed a triathlon.
Jones inspires many and is trying to be an example to others. Everyday 22 veterans commit suicide, but Jones puts a positive spin on his circumstance so he does not let himself get down.
“He says, ‘Thank God it happened to me and not to someone who could not cope with it,’” said Pam Jones.
Jones — who runs a mile in about nine minutes — knows he can be a beacon of light to other veterans and does not take the opportunity lightly, but every day this forces him to get up and be excited, happy and joyful about life so he can inspire others.
“Instead of seeing tragedy or hardship as something that is blocking your path or getting in your way, [I see] it as an opportunity to grow stronger, something that you can use to make yourself better,” he said.
Jones is just one of those people who strive to do better every day, his wife said. He also is very funny and has done some stand-up comedy.
His journey has received national attention and he has received letters of support from the VA and state representatives. Some mayors have even come out to his events, although no state or city representatives attended in Charlotte.
Rob and Pam Jones are currently building a house in Lowden County, Va., and plan to take a few months off, but he hopes to try out for the Invictus games in the future.
Donations can be made at robjonesjourney.com.