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TODAY   |  April 01, 2014

Vet races cross-country for special cause

Tuesday’s installment of TODAY’s series, “Hope to It,” spotlights Marine Rob Jones, who had both legs amputated after an IED explosion. He had special legs made for him to peddle a bike so he could go on a cross-country ride and raise money for charities that gave him tools to go on living.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let's move to our special series "hope to it." and a wounded marine who lives with incredible challenges.

>> yes, rob jones suffered an injury while deployed but never gave up on life.

>> that's right, tamron. and now he wants to pay it forward and help those organizations that never gave up on him.

>> when i first came to, i wasn't coherent. it was kind of a separation of mind and body, so to speak.

>> marine combat engineer rob jones entered the corps right out of college deploying twice to the middle east .

>> my job as combat engineer , to clear the area for everybody else so we can get through it safely.

>> a dangerous job, it led to a devastating life changing event. an ied exploding right under rob resulting in above the knee amputations of both legs.

>> and everybody thought i was going to die or anything, i don't know why, obviously it was likely i could have. it never really crossed my mind.

>> rob wasn't about to give up on his life, though.

>> i didn't spend a whole lot of time about being distraught. i decided to skip that being depressed stuff and get on with it.

>> and get on with it, he did. rob joined the national rowing team. and not only competed but won a bronze medal in the 2012 london paralympic games . then it was time for a new challenge.

>> rob had special legs made for him to be able to pedal a standard bike so he could embark on an ambitious cross country ride. starting in maine and ending in san diego raising money for the charities that gave him the tools to go on living.

>> i can't say enough great things about rob and what an inspiration he is. he's trying to soar above and do things that most people with two perfectly good legs wouldn't do.

>> i believe in leading from the front and hope people can see what i'm doing and use it to make a difference in their own lives.

>> with the help of his little brother, steve. driving a support truck behind him, he's spent the last few months traversing our country. in wind, snow and ice.

>> there have been a lot of times where i've been tired of it and i want to stop, but i never actually want to quit.

>> and the support rob's received along the way has helped keep his spirits up.

>> i knew people would be supportive, but i never thought i'd have people lining the streets.

>> from people cheering him on to ride alongs, even police escorts.

>> part of the reason i wanted to show that americans work together toward a goal, we can do anything.

>> rob's story has inspired other fellow veteran amputees.

>> you see these guys always smiling and, happy and making jokes. and it's inspiring others that there's a reason for us to stay alive and go forward.

>> with just under 500 miles to go, the end is in sight and rob's already thinking about his next challenge.

>> triathlon is entering the 2016 paralympics. i might try that. i might have a go at being a stand-up comedian or any number of things. but the first thing is to take a rest and think about it.

>> wow.

>> love that.

>> team rob.

>> triathlon or stand-up comedian. that is fantastic. here's something else really cool. rob's website, you can click on a link that shows you exactly where he is at that moment. he's getting really close to finishing his ride along the beautiful pacific coast highway . he's raised just under $100,000 to this point. and if you want to find out how you can help, go to today.com, we'll link to you.

>> what -- a love this series. i say it every week, it's a fantastic series.

>> it's cool, too, you see wounded warriors, it's not the end of something, beginning of something new and they figure out what to do with their lives from there.