U.S. Senator Mark Kirk talked with NBC 5 Mary Ann Ahern about achieving his goal to climb 37 flights of stairs in Willis Tower and his plans for getting back to Washington D.C. Ahern reports for NBC News at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk hoped to send a message on Sunday when he tackled stairs and his first public appearance since suffering a stroke.
“I hope this gives a message to people across Illinois that may face stroke,” Kirk said during his first post-stroke interview at the Rehab Institute of Chicago’s Stair Climb at Willis Tower.
Minutes earlier, the Republican senator was greeted with cheers and a hug from his mom after he reached the top of the Willis Tower and achieved a personal goal. He climbed 37 floors during the event.
It’s been 10 months since Kirk suffered a devastating stroke that left many wondering if he would be able to recover. It has taken hours of tough rehab to get where Kirk is today, which has been documented in several videos Kirk released to the public as updates on his progress.
When asked about his motivation, Kirk said Sunday’s event kept him going and in good spirits.
“In fact, I was befriending people who had big staircases,” Kirk joked.
All jokes aside, Kirk said his next step is to walk the Capitol steps in Washington D.C. by January for the next session. He will continue his rehab treatment with RIC as he works towards that goal.
The physical and speech therapists could not be happier with the senator’s progress.
“He did better than I did,” said Kirk’s physical Therapist Dr. Jay Alexander, who climbed the flights of stairs alongside the senator.
“It’s just been really great experience for all of us, it’s what we live for” said Kirk’s speech therapist Kathryn Borio.