By Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 40,000 people made their way Sunday from Central High School to South Philadelphia for the 38th annual Broad Street Run.

With every step taken, a story is not far behind.

“I’m a two-time survivor,” said John St. Omer of Burlington Township, New Jersey.

St. Omer beat stomach cancer twice. On Sunday morning, for the fifth time, John St. Omer of Burlington Township crossed the finish line of the Blue Cross Broad Street run.

“I’m one of the lucky ones to even be able to run a race, and even do marathons,” he said.

So now he runs for the cause that may have helped save him.

“Every nickel counts. Every dime counts.”

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There’s proof: 38 years later and racers have raised millions of dollars for the American Cancer Society.

“I know their research dollars that was able to diagnose me at an early stage, and I’m a survivor now because of the dollars going into the Cancer Society,” said race director Jim Marino, who was beat pancreatic cancer.

And like tumors that spread outwards, cancer can impact more than just the individual it strikes.

“My uncle passed away from glioblastoma about 10 years ago,” Michael Harker, who completed the run for the fifth year in a row, said. “If I can do something I enjoy while helping other people, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

It’s personal stories like these that create a reason to run.

“I love the fact that people really add meaning to their miles and get out there with a little push behind them,” said Michael Rodgers, who made the trip from Manhattan, New York to tackle the Broad Street Run.

But for others, the run is an annual tradition that spans decades.

“I ran it the first time 36 years ago. There were no crowds, no music – so this is awesome!” said Cathy Link, who has run the race for 32 years.