CHICAGO (CBS)– U.S. Senator Mark Kirk was met with hugs and cheers as he reached the finish line of a popular stair climbing event at the Willis Tower.

“I feel great. This is a lot more than the 45 steps that I had to climb to the senate front door,” Kirk said.

Kirk, taking part in a charity fundraiser called “Skyrise Chicago” was making his first public appearance since suffering a major stroke in January.

He did not the climb all 103 floors Sunday, but started on the building’s 66th floor and climbed to the 103rd floor.

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Wearing a brace on his left leg, Kirk held onto the railing during his ascent. His progress was monitored by physical therapist Mike Klonowski from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, who said Kirk did not need any assistance.

“He’s a very driven individual and we just needed to set the stage for him.We gradually bumped him up to this.”

The 53-year-old has been releasing videos on his progress, including footage of his working with therapists and climbing stairs. He continues to undergo rehabilitation.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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