Senator Kirk, Battle Buddies Hustle up the Hancock Center


The competition took place on Sunday, February 22, 2015, several hours before the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood. Senator met first with his support group – known as “Kirk’s Battle Buddies” – on Friday, February 20, 2015 to prepare for the challenge. It is really encouraging to see his battle for a recovery and to see his commitment to overcome health challenges and his dedication to help others.

Senator Kirk suffered a stroke in 2012. I remember him quite well before that tragic event. He attended number of community events that I was invited. I could not believe when I first heard tragic news. I was invited to one of his community, public meeting that was cancelled because of it.
Senator Kirk fought difficult battle to overcome health challenges and to be able to perform public duties. He was greeted by his fellow U.S. Senators on the steps of the United States Capital in 2013. They cheered him when he walked steps up.

Senator Kirk stated about his recent climbing Hancock Tower: „My battle buddy Jackson has inspired me to never give up and to work hard every day during my recovery, and it is my goal to offer the same inspiration to those who are suffering which is why I started Kirk’s Battle Buddies. Being a battle buddy is one of the highest honors given to someone in the military because it means you are sharing these battles together. Those of us in this group can be an inspiration to each other and anyone who needs extra motivation in their life. It was an honor to join all the climbers and fellow battle buddies as we hustled up the Hancock Center today. Not only did each of us benefit from a physical challenge, but we also raised awareness about a devastating disease that took my father – pulmonary fibrosis.”
Senator Kirk was joined in the climb by two battle buddies, Jackson Cunningham and Pat Newman.
Jackson is a 12-year-old stroke survivor from Champaign who inspired Senator Kirk in his recovery after he suffered a stroke in 2012.

Jackson wrote him a letter telling him to „never give up” and that „all the hard work is worth it.” They became pen pals while the Senator was recovering and have become each other’s „battle buddy” on their roads to recovery.

Pat Newman was hit by a car days before his 21st birthday and told he would never walk again. Through his dedicated rehabilitation, Pat was not only able to walk but has acquired a full-time job and resumed a normal lifestyle.

The goal for Sen. Kirk – Sunday race was to raise funds for lung disease research. Each year, about 4,000 people race to the top of John Hancock Center to raise more than $1 million for Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs. The event offers a 94-story full climb or the 52-story half climb.

 Andrew with Senator Kirk

I had an opportunity to talk with Sen. Kirk in December when we exchanged ideas about programs and services for seniors and disabled residents in Illinois. I wish him perservearence and all the best in his public service.

@ Andrew Mikolajczyk