By Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands hit the pavement near Philadelphia’s Art Museum for Saturday’s annual Rocky Run.

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“I’m a huge Rocky fan so I had to do the Rocky Run,” said Sandy.

The character Rocky Balboa inspired the run and many say they chose this event specifically because they resonated with the symbol of resilience and overcoming the odds.

That’s a theme Michael Sullivan found threaded into his life — and the reason he drove the hour-and-a-half from Lancaster to run in this race.

“I got bit by a spider and contracted MRSA – doctors were talking about me losing my leg,” Sullivan explained. “I told myself I would run a half-marathon if I kept my leg and the Rocky Balboa Run was it.”

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It’s a similar story for Eloisa Dejesus-Woodruff, principal of Richard Stockton Elementary School, whose husband was diagnosed with cancer of the blood.

“We spent a lot of time in the hospital last year,” she said. “We continue to look and see what the next steps are. “At this point, it’s very encouraging seeing the underdogs in life succeed and move forward.”

Even better — her students joined — in part, to raise money through charity miles as part of the Kindness Heroes Campaign.

“We have a powerful opportunity to do the right thing,” DeJesus-Woodruff said.

And while those who ran both the 5K and the 10-mile race got the Italian Stallion Medal, for many, it was all about simply putting one foot in front of the other.

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“It’s always about crossing the finish line.”