"I hope this gives a message to people across Illinois that may face stroke," Kirk said. He was greeted by his mother at the top of Willis Tower.

Kirk joked that he helped his rehabilitation chances by "befriending people who had big staircases." He said that includes his speech therapist.

"Once I found out that she was in a 44-story apartment building, I became her best friend, and then started training in her building."

Kirk praised the help he has gotten during his rehabilitation. "They kept saying you're going to get better, and they were right," he said.