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Former Marine, double amputee cyclist helps others
new jm cyclist
Cyclist Rob Jones rode 35 miles across Pawnee County on Friday. His mission is to raise $1 million to help other military service members in need. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune

A southwesterly wind was whistling and the wind chill dipped below zero.
Rob Jones wore headgear and was wrapped tightly in protective clothing against the weather riding his specially-designed bicycle.
And he pedaled on.
His mission of helping others was way too important to allow some discomfort to keep him from his goal for the day. He’s encountered stiff wind; snow in Missouri and icy road conditions.
Thirty-five miles and 61/2 hours later, it was Mission Accomplished in Pawnee County. Jones is traveling 5,400 miles across the country to raise awareness and $1 million to help others.
That’s 103 days down, about 70 more to go.
Thirty-five miles a day no matter the weather.
“I hated my life all day today,” he said. “It depends on how the ride goes. Some days I enjoy it, some days I don’t. Once I decide I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I’m not quite sure where I picked that up somewhere along the way between age zero and now. I’m not that different from a lot of people.”
Not that different -- except the Marine veteran from Lovettsville, Va. is a double amputee.
After serving in Iraq in 2008, Jones was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. Jones was part of a crew of combat engineers that searched for improvised explosive devices (IED), according to When one of the IEDs exploded, doctors had to amputate Jones’ legs above the knees. Jones was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2011 and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Jones recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for more than a year. While learning to walk, he started riding a bike for physical therapy. He was fitted with prosthetic legs and learned how to walk with two prosthetic knees.
Jones wanted to pay his good fortune forward by helping others because he’s been helped.
“I’m thankful and appreciative that everyone has been really supportive,” he said.
Jones’ donations are earmarked to three charities -- Ride2Recovery, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Jones had raised more than $84,000 for the nonprofit organizations.
# Ride2Recovery benefits mental and physical rehabilitation programs for wounded service members with the sport of cycling, whether it is an upright bicycle like Jones is riding, a recumbent or a hand cycle.
# The Coalition to Support America’s Heroes provides financial assistance to injured service members and their families from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
# The Semper Fi Fund 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.
Jones doesn’t worry about the small stuff when he’s riding. On his demanding daylong journeys, he doesn’t waste time counting calories.
He eats enough food when the need arises. He isn’t concerned about dehydration because his body doesn’t lose excess moisture.
“I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t even count the calories,” he said. “I don’t sweat that much. I use sports drink.”
His story has inspired others.
“My intention is to do what I’m going to do. Being an inspiration is not something I set out to do, but if that happens, that’s cool,” Jones said. “If you want to learn a lesson or get inspired that’s a great bonus.”
Jones has seen a hero’s welcome in various places, including Larned on Friday night.
“It’s not my decision whether I’m a hero, that’s their decision,” he said. “It’s a nice compliment.”
He started his journey across the country in Maine in October. He averages about 35 miles per day and stays in hotels or even in the back of the support van that his brother, Steve Miller, 18, drives during the trip.
“It’s nice to have my brother along and spend some time together,” he said. “It’s been nice to share the journey.”
Anyone who would like to donate can visit Jones’ website at
Checks can be mailed to each of these charities. Be sure to add “For Rob Jones Journey,” in the memo of the check so it is credited toward the money he is raising.
Mail checks to: Semper Fi Fund, 825 College Blvd., Suite 102, PMB 609, Oceanside, CA 92057; Ride 2 Recovery, Attn: Donations, 23679 Calabasas Rd #420, Calabasas, CA, 91302; or Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, P.O. Box 96440, Washington, DC 20090-6440.