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Ill. boy, US senator inspire fellow stroke victims

OAKWOOD, Ill. (AP) – On the surface, an 11-year-old Illinois boy who likes Legos and zombies would seem to have little in common with a U.S. senator focused on Iran sanctions and immigration reform.

But young Jackson Cunningham and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk have struck up an unlikely friendship because both suffered strokes.

Their improbable bond has warmed hearts and inspired fellow stroke patients.

The boy, who lives in Oakwood in central Illinois, wrote to Kirk after the senator’s stroke in 2012. Soon they met face to face. Each now encourages the other to persevere through the doubt and pain of recovery.

Once, during a visit to Washington, Kirk let Jackson sneak into the vice president’s chair in the Senate when security officers weren’t looking.

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