Double amputee running month of marathons passes through Detroit

- Long before dawn, before most even consider heading to Belle Isle to take in the scenery, a fantastic feat was slowly taking shape.

On the park Tuesday morning was an RV, carrying a man on a mission. Rob Jones is running a month of marathons -- 26.2 miles every day. Adding to this impressive feat is the fact that Jones is a double amputee.

Jones, 32, a now-retired Marine Corp sergeant from Virginia, lost both of his legs when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan some seven years ago. His disability has never been disabiling.

On Tuesday morning, Belle Isle became his sixth stop on a 31 city international tour. Jones plans to visit the 31 different cities in just 31 days, raising money and awareness along the way for wounded veteran charities.

"I've just got to focus one day at a time," he says. "I decided I was going to do this a year and a half ago so I've had plenty of time to mentally prepare for it. I'm doing it for a reason that's bigger than myself or my own discomfort, or getting bored of running. That's all the psyche I really need."

Jones is hoping to raise $1 million for the charities along his journey, which began October 12 in London's Hyde Park. His next stop after Belle Isle will be in Columbus, Ohio. His month of marathons will eventually end on Saturday, November 11 - Veteran's Day - at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

"I ran a few marathons in my time, and it's a grueling ordeal. For him to do 31 consecutive back-to-back, is unconscionable," says Rich Kieper of Melvindale American Legion Post 472.

In each city, Jones runs for about an hour and 20 minutes, then takes a 20 minute break before continuing on.

In 2012, Jones earned the bronze medal in the paralympics. Two years later, he became the first double amputee to ride from coast to coast - some  5,100 miles - on a bike.

"After I ran my first marathon, I quit running. That's how much a toll it took on me physical and mentally," says Shawn Rowley, a runner from Canton. "It's an honor to be be running with him. It's a great cause to support him, our veterans its wonderful."

Rowley is among the many who have joined Jones in his journey, dropping off donations, jogging along side him or simply cheering him on. Every one of them a motivation to keep moving towards the finish line in Washington, D.C. -- and that million dollar goal.

"I had a pretty traumatic experience in Afghanistan and was able to come back and use it to my advantage, and I want to show civilians that, too, they might not know how to react. It's just another story out there for people to see," Jones says.

If you'd like to make a donation to Jones's journey, visit www.robjonesjourney.com

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