A Tribute to those who serve and sacrifice
Sergeant Rob Jones was a combat engineer in the Marine Corps. On his second deployment, in 2010, the serviceman was searching for IEDs in an area of Afghanistan with a high likelihood of housing explosives in the ground. While carrying his metal detector through the area, something happened that would alter his life.
“My luck ran out and I stepped on an IED,” said Jones.
The ensuing explosion mangled both of Jones’ legs, leading to an amputation shortly after. For the next year and a half, the soldier fought through physical therapy, having to learn to walk again. “It was definitely physically grueling and required a lot of patience, and [it was] mentally taxing,” said Jones. “It was a lot of figuring out how to do stuff, and relearning the things I wanted to do.”
The wounded Marine showed a fighting spirit in the days following the traumatic event.
“The first week that I was lucid, I started looking up sports I could try and do,” he said. “The nurses and all the physical therapists that were in that section of the hospital would come in and tell me that prosthetics were great and I’d be able to walk, so I knew it pretty quickly.”
Jones began to train for the 2012 Paralympics and naturally took to rowing. In that same event, two years after losing his legs, he would win a bronze medal. One year later, in 2013, he placed fourth in the World Rowing Championships.
But, the most important part of Jones’ story is how he took his injury and used it to inspire other military members and veterans through his project, the Rob Jones Journey.
“It’s about proving what is possible for veterans,” said Jones. “I wanted to figure out a way to give back to the community that I had gotten so much from: the veteran community and the military. Just because I was wounded, didn’t mean that I didn’t have that responsibility.”
Beginning with a bike ride across America, which lasted approximately seven months, Jones has used his situation to show the possibilities of recovery.
“Rob Jones Journey is my way of continuing to fight for my fellow veterans, using the skills that I have,” he said.
Jones continues to push himself physically in the Rob Jones Journey. The latest example comes from his 2017 marathon of marathons, where he competed in 31 marathons in 31 different cities, 31 days in a row.
On September 8, Jones will put his seasoned athletic skills to the test at the upcoming Charleston 9/11 Heroes Run on Daniel Island, an event at which he will serve as both a participant and honoree.
Created by the Travis Manion Foundation, the 9/11 Heroes Run is an international 5K for both walkers and runners. It is meant to remind people of the thousands who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including hundreds of first responders. The event also serves as a tribute to all military and first responders, past and present, who serve our country and communities. Now in its seventh year, the run kicks off in front of the City of Charleston Police and Fire Station on Daniel Island.
The family of deceased North Charleston Police Officer Ryan MacCluen will be present and will serve as honorees.
“He [MacCluen] was killed in February of this year in a motorcycle accident,” said Charleston 9/11 Heroes Run Director Theresa Faircloth. “We’ve got several of his family members that are going to speak about Officer MacCluen, about his service and his sacrifice. So, we’re really honored to have them just come and share some information about what the service meant to Ryan.”
The third guest of honor will be York County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Doty, the twin brother of York County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Doty, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. “He’s going to come and share Mike’s story of service and sacrifice, and he has a unique perspective, too,” said Faircloth.
Each of the honorees will speak at the event’s opening ceremony.
This will be the first year that the Charleston 9/11 Heroes Run will have a GORUCK division. “It’s like a challenge,” said Faircloth. “GORUCK is an organization that was inspired by military veterans, where people will put on a backpack and do a run or a walk in honor of fallen heroes.”
GORUCK sells special forces-grade rucksacks and clothing, and is known for their GORUCK Challenge, where people load additional weight into a backpack while they complete a GORUCK sanctioned event.
“If you complete a GORUCK event, you get a GORUCK patch for that event,” said Faircloth.
Although there is typically a requirement for the amount of weight put into a bag, there will not be a specific weight for the 9/11 Heroes Run.
“They [GORUCK runners] will be participating on the same race course as everybody else, at the same time as everybody else, but they would need to wear a backpack, or if they’re a police officer, they can wear their uniform and their vest, or if they’re a firefighter, they can wear their air pack or their turnout gear,” added Faircloth.
Half of the proceeds of the 9/11 Heroes Run go to the Travis Manion Foundation, while the other half stays local.
“This year, we have chosen to partner with the Tri-County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Three, and what we’re going to be doing is providing life-saving trauma kits to more than 20 local law enforcement agencies,” said Faircloth. “We are helping to provide kits that our officers would be able to utilize to save lives, while they’re waiting for EMS to respond.”
To register for this year’s event, or for more information, visit www.911heroesrun.org/charleston.
BE A PART OF THE CHARLESTON 9/11 HEROES RUN
Saturday, September 8
Daniel Island Fire & Police Station
Opening Ceremony with remarks by Guests of Honor - 8:30 a.m.
Race starts - 9 a.m.
Registration prices will increase as the event approaches.