By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is the story of overcoming the odds with a Philadelphia runner whose journey started with a painful disability.

Running 26 miles is tough for even elite athletes, so for somebody who lives with chronic pain, running a marathon is a lofty goal. Dave Scarpello says he learned that with determination and dedication you can overcome almost anything. It’s a message he’s hoping will inspire others.

Running is medicine for Scarpello who says, “It’s amazing, I literally went into it for the physical benefits, I had no idea what it would do mentally.”

Dave,who lives in Roxborough, is in constant pain mainly from the six herniated discs in his back. He was assaulted in an armed robbery in the early ’90’s and then hit by a drunk driver in 2003.

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“I woke up in a trauma center and they told me I wasn’t going to walk again. My life just stopped, just came to a dead halt. It was bad,” Dave explains.

His life had been full of hope in the music business. But after the accident he was consumed with despair. Every night with the same thought: “Please just let me die in my sleep so I don’t have to wake up and be in pain again.”

But he eventually decided to get his life back, first with physical therapy. Doctors said if he could stand the pain exercise was helpful. And now Dave who’s 50, runs every day and is hoping to share his massage of survival, which is never giving up to others who struggle with physical and mental pain. “I don’t even know if its strength and courage, it just comes down to you either keep moving or you die,” Dave says.

Now he’s training for his first marathon in New York City and 2 weeks later the Philadelphia marathon. “I just want to finish I’ll be happy if I finish under five hours which is a slow time but I just want to do it,” Dave said

Dave says running has been especially helpful for him in his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. He’s now weaned himself off the pain meds and lost 56 pounds since he started running.

Stephanie Stahl