Sen. Kirk Completes Stair Climb to Capitol On First Day Back in Senate

Nearly a year after suffering a major stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk waves to friends and supporters as he marks his return to the Senate by walking up the steps to the Senate door with Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Joe Manchin, in Washington DC., Jan. 3, 2013. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., 45 steps awaited him upon his return to the Senate for the first time since his stroke last January.

Kirk slowly climbed the steps to the Capitol, a trip that took about 10 minutes total including three stops - the first to greet Vice President Joe Biden, and then Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V.

"Welcome back, man," Biden exclaimed as Kirk ambled up the first few steps.

With Manchin and Biden bracing him, Kirk continued his walk up the Capitol steps, stopping halfway to wave to colleagues from the House and Senate who had lined up along the steps for the monumental walk and more than a hundred people gathered on the plaza.

When Kirk reached the top, the crowd burst into applause and cheers for a man who has spent the past year learning how to walk again.

Kirk took to Twitter shortly after his star climb to thank those who have supported him.

Just finished Capitol step climb, It is the honor of my life to represent the people of #IL. Thx for all the support!…

— Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk) January 3, 2013

Last January doctors determined Kirk had suffered an ischemic stroke after finding a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck. Kirk underwent surgery to reduce swelling around his brain and has gone through rehabilitation over the past year.

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