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SALT LAKE CITY — Running laps around Liberty Park Wednesday, Rob Jones seems to attract attention. Although, it may more his story than his injury and running blades that people are drawn to.
"My mission has not changed; pre-injury versus post-injury," Jones said. "My mission was to have an impact on the world and have a life that I enjoy and could be proud of when it was all over."
Jones, who grew up in Lovettsville, Virginia, lost both legs after he stepped on an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan several years ago. Through his recovery, he eventually became the first double amputee to ride a bicycle across the country. His current goal is to run 31 marathons in 31 consecutive days, finishing up on Veteran's Day in Washington D.C.
"When I got hurt, I had to find a new path," Jones said. "All it took was a little bit of imagination on my part, and a little bit of being open to new possibilities, and a lot of help from a lot of people."
Jones spent much of his recovery at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Now he hopes to show other soldiers that trauma or injuries don't have to keep them from living.
"You weren't fighting alone over there, so don't fight alone back here," Jones said. "They can use my story as inspiration, or they could use it to their own advantage, and they can then see themselves in that role of being able to contribute still."
At the same time, Jones points out his name isn't important. His story is what matters.
"As long as there's somebody out there that's saying, 'There was that one time that that veteran guy, that double amputee veteran guy ran 31 marathons in 31 days ... .' As long as that story is out there, then that's all that matters. That's what people need," he said.
Jones will next run a marathon in Seattle Thursday. People can track his journey on his website.