Veteran Brings Hope and Awareness During 5K

 Gabriela Cabrera, Staff Writer

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Photo by Gabriela Cabrera 

An amputee veteran stopped in North Carolina to complete a marathon as part of his mission to bring awareness to disabled veterans and raise money for his cause.

Rob Jones is running 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for veterans overcoming challenges. Jones arrived in Charlotte, N.C this past Thursday to complete one of his marathons at Freedom Park.

Jones said that he hopes his journey resonates with people, and that they see it as inspiration to make themselves better.

“Instead of seeing tragedy or hardship as something that’s blocking your path or getting in your way, see it as an opportunity to get stronger,” said Jones.

In 2010, Jones stepped on a mine in Afghanistan while alerting his patrol to IEDs. The resulting injuries inspired him to bring awareness to other veterans.

“I knew at this point that I’m alive and I’m going to have the best life possible,” Jones said during an interview on the “Jocko” podcast in September.

Since the traumatic event, Jones has overcome his injury to pursue a new mission: Raising money for veterans and bringing awareness to the community about veterans who struggle to rejoin society.

In his blog, Jones said he searched for challenges that he could use to become better. These challenges included competing in the 2012 Paralympics and biking 5,200 miles across the country.

“Over the course of the ride 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,” said Jones.

Supporters gathered around Rob Jones as he thanked them for coming out to Freedom Park.

Madeline Schildwachter, an employee for the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides programs to assist wounded veterans, said she is inspired by Rob Jones and his mission.

“When you think about someone who does the Couch to 5K program that in itself is an incredible feat. To just start something new and complete it makes me in total awe of those people,” said Schildwachter. “Then you have Rob and I’m just like ‘you are out of this world.’”

Jones made it his mission to raise $1 million for charities that had helped him during his time in rehab.

Pamela Jones, the wife of the veteran, said Jones is an example of someone who has gone through something completely traumatic that could halt everyone in their tracks.

“Rob is always telling me ‘Thank God it happened to me and not someone who wasn’t able to cope with it,’” said Pamela.

She said Jones believes this happened to him for a reason and that he now has the power to change people’s perception and to be an example to other veterans.

Pamela said Jones has enjoyed running in every city so far since each is so different, but there are some cities that really stand out to them.

“Charlotte is definitely the biggest turnout which is amazing,” said Pamela. “In Boston, he finished the run and there were bagpipes at the finish.”

Pamela said in both San Francisco and San Diego there were some younger kids who were inspired by Rob and ran the marathon with him.

 However, in some cities they didn’t get the same reaction.

“In Memphis it was really quiet. We only had about five people come out,” said Pamela. “It was really horrible weather. In the last five miles of the run there was this torrential downpour.”

 Despite the smaller turnouts, Pamela said the whole month has been really amazing.

After finishing the race in Washington D.C. this past week, Jones’ message continues to touch those around the world.

Pamela said Rob is trying to be a beacon of hope for those who have gone through traumatic experiences.

Edited by Harrison Taylor and Dustin Kiggins

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