After walking more than 33 million steps - the pedometer doesn't lie - through 21 states, Troy Yocum arrived Friday morning at the bottom of the stairs made famous by Rocky.

He wore an orange cape with "Hero at Large" printed on the back and held an American flag as he bounded up the Art Museum steps. At the top, he cheered with 30 of his supporters.

"We made it," Yocum said of his climb.

But as the Robert Frost poem says, Yokum has more promises to keep and more miles to go.

In April 2010, Yokum, 31, of Louisville, Ky., started a 7,000-mile trek across the country to spread awareness about problems facing Iraq veterans and to raise money for military families in need. He still has 700 miles left, expecting to end in his hometown.

He planned his hike after returning in August 2009 from a 13-month deployment in Iraq, after learning of a military friend who had lost his job and home.

"I chose to do 40 million steps across America," Yocum said. "I keep telling everyone else, there's a really easy step you can take - help someone in your local community."

So far, Yocum has aided 40 families with help from Wish Upon a Hero, a national organization based in Moorestown that connects people, using its website (, to grant each other's wishes.

One of those families - Staff Sgt. Kermit Herbert, his wife, Erin, and six children - is from Fort Dix. Friday, in a presentation at Modell's Sporting Goods in Center City, they had two wishes fulfilled: a $5,000 down payment for an eight-passenger van and $750 to use for dental services. Modell's had a surprise as well: $100 gift cards for each of the children.

"To be given something so large that's going to help our family for years to come was just an honor," said Erin Herbert.

Afterward, Yocum and his supporters walked to the Art Museum steps, while Erin Herbert took the children, who range in age from 10 weeks to 14 years, on a shopping spree at Modell's. The children bought shoes, a basketball, softball items, and Yankees T-shirts.

Herbert didn't know about Yocum's travels until she posted the wishes. After meeting him, she applauded his dedication.

"That man should have some kind of presidential award for what he's doing, especially toward military families," Herbert said. "We don't really get any frilly stuff for what our husbands do."

Sponsors, Facebook friends, and military families offer a place for Yocum, his wife, and two dogs to stay. Many donate money for food, clothes - and, most important, shoes. Yocum is on his eighth pair.

He has raised $275,000 on his route, which has taken him from Louisville north to Chicago, west to San Diego, then east to Louisiana and up the East Coast. He walks from six to 10 hours a day, averaging 15 to 20 miles. His record day was 37 miles.

"My feet were raw the next day," he said. "Just raw."

He has struggled with blisters, kidney stones, a neck sprain, and a foot infection, injuries that have landed him in the hospital three times and put him a month behind schedule.

Yocum hasn't traveled alone. His wife, Mareike, travels behind him in a van, accompanied by the couple's two dogs. Emmie, a Shiba Inu, has matched him step for step most of the trip. The goal for Harley, a Chihuahua, is far more modest - 100 miles.

Should all go as planned, Yocum will make it to Boston and return to Louisville for his final steps Sept. 3.

"I'm going to make it to the finish line no matter what," he said. "If I have to limp there or wheelchair myself there, I'll do it."