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Steps of recovery: Senator who relearned how to walk climbs Senate stairs

Michael Reynolds / EPA

Members of Congress applaud as Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois walks up the east steps of the Senate on Jan. 3 with assistance from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, left, and Vice President Joe Biden.

Michael Reynolds / EPA

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, left, waves with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as Kirk returns to the Senate. Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, right, look on.

 By Tracy Connor, NBC News: In the year since he had a major stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk has taken his recovery one step at a time. On Thursday, the Illinois Republican took 45 more – climbing the stairs to the Senate’s front door while colleagues cheered him on. “Yeah, Mark!” the crowd shouted as Kirk, 53, mounted the steps, slowly and stiffly, with Vice President Biden grasping his right arm. Full Story

Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Sen. Joe Manchin help Sen. Mark Kirk to climb up the stairs upon his return to the Senate. A stroke devastated the left side of Kirk's body and left him so close to death he saw angels – with New York accents – at his hospital bed.

Video: Sen. Kirk welcomed back to Capitol with cheers

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