Combat-wounded Marine rides across country
Rob Jones was looking for an adventure – so he decided to ride a bicycle across America. But this is no ordinary story of someone biking across the country.
Jones is a veteran who lost both of his legs when he stepped on an explosive during his deployment in Afghanistan.
“I just wanted to have an adventure,” Jones said of why he is making the trek. “After I decided to do it, I decided to raise money too.”
He said he had learned to ride a bicycle during his therapy, taking nine to 10 months to re-learn this skill.
“Most people don’t understand just how difficult it is to ride a bike with prostheses,” Rob explained, while training for his expedition. “Most people use their quads, calves and glutes to pedal, while I am only able to use my glutes. It’s extremely challenging, but I’m determined to achieve my goal.”
Tuesday he was nearly half-way to his goal as he arrived in Cassoday, having started his trip in Bar Harbor, Maine, on Oct. 14, and riding to San Diego, Calif., arriving sometime between February and April.
This retired Marine cycles approximately 35 miles a day, with his brother, Steve, following along behind in a support truck where they sleep on some nights. His destination is San Diego, Calif., sometime between February and April.
Jones served in the Marines from 2006 until 2011 in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a combat engineer. When he was hit by an improvised explosive device it resulted in a double above-knee amputation. Jones was awarded a Purple Heart and was honorably discharged in 2011.
He said this didn’t change his outlook on life, it just changed the path he was taking.
After being discharged he took up rowing and won a slot in the 2012 Paralympics in London, where he brought home a bronze medal in the Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Sculls event. This served as an inspiration to others, with his motto being “Survive, Recover, Live.”
He has competed in the Marine Corps 10K, the Army 10-Miler, the Charlottesville Half Marathon, the CFI Mini Triathlon and the Nation’s Olympic Distance Triathlon. In 2012, he was named USA Rowing’s Man of the Year.
In his short adaptive rowing career, Jones and his Team Bad Company partner, Oksana Masters, have won several major competitions, including the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Selection Trials, the 2012 World Rowing Final Paralympic Qualifier in Belgrade, Serbia, and the 2013 U.S. Para-Rowing Championships. The pair placed third in the Samsung World Rowing Cup in England earlier this year and fourth at the World Championships in South Korea in August.
Jones went on to learn to ride a bike with his prostheses.
His goal now is to ride 5,400 miles.
Along the way he is hoping to raise $1 million to go to the charities he is supporting, including the Semper Fi Fund, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and Ride 2 Recovery.
Donations can be made through his Web site at www.RobJonesJourney.com, or through his Facebook page, Rob Jones Journey. People can also mail a check to any one of these three charity organizations. Be sure to write “For Rob Jones Journey” in the memo section so it gets credited toward the money he is raising. Those who donate to Coalition or R2R online are asked to write Jones’s name in the comment section.
“It’s simple, really. I am committed to giving back to the charitable organizations that were there for me in my darkest hours,” he said. “They helped me stand back up on new legs, learn how to walk again, then ride a bike again, then become a world-class rower. Now, with the help of patriotic and generous Americans, I intend to pay it forward, so those organizations can help even more wounded soldiers, like me, in their time of greatest need.”
“Rob is one of the most inspiring men I have ever had the honor to meet,” said David Walker, President & CEO of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. “He is obviously a unique individual, but the role he plays in motivating and challenging his fellow combat wounded and in raising funds and awareness for organizations like ours, is extraordinary.”
Jones has been hearing words of encouragement like this along his route.
He said he has enjoyed meeting people along the way.
“People come out and say they are proud of me,” he said.
He said what makes it worth it is the people who come out and visit and cheer him on, as well as the challenge to himself.
He is continuing to head west for a while before his route will take him further south.
Semper Fi Fund. The Semper Fi Fund is a non profit organization that provides financial relief to injured or severely ill post 9/11 Marine Corps and Navy service members and their families during hospitalization, recovery, and afterward. They provide family support, specialized adaptive equipment, adaptive housing & transportation, education and career transition assistance, PTSD and TBI support, and also physical rehabilitation through sport via Team Semper Fi. They have also recently started a program to provide relief to members of other military branches as well through their America’s Fund program.
Semper Fi Fund
825 College Blvd, Suite 102
Oceanside, CA 92057
Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes(CSAH) is a non profit organization that provides financial assistance to all injured service members and their families from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. They specialize in the direct giving of money to veterans, providing part time work for veterans and their caregivers, and providing online education and training. They host a yearly conference called the Road to Recovery; a four day event taking place in Orlando, Florida designed to motivate and educate injured service members and their families in order to prepare them for the challenges they will be facing in the future as a result of their injury. The conference provides information regarding career counseling, housing, VA benefits, healthcare, and personal development.
Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes
PO Box 96440
Washington, DC 20090-6440
Ride2Recovery. Ride 2 Recovery is produced by the Fitness Challenge Foundation, a non profit organization designed to benefit mental and physical rehabilitation programs for wounded service members via the sport of cycling, whether it be on an upright cycle, a recumbent, or a hand cycle. The Ride 2 Recovery program raises money to support spinning recovery labs, and outdoor cycling programs located at military and VA hospitals designed to keep wounded veterans active. Ray Clark, the representative for R2R at Walter Reed, was integral in Rob’s relearning how to ride an upright cycle.
Ride 2 Recovery
23679 Calabasas Rd. #420
Calabasas, CA 91302