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The Strength I See in John Fetterman and My Dad, Both Stroke Survivors

Dear Mr. Fetterman,

Strokes are terrible things, and some of us have had the opportunity to witness the bravery and tenacity of stroke survivors firsthand. I would know.

My father, Robert Fitts, had a massive stroke at the age of 36. He was left paralyzed on the entire left side of his body and with significant brain injury. So when I saw you stumble over some words and repeat yourself at the debate, I didn’t immediately think about how your cognitive ability might have been impacted by his stroke or the words you fumbled over— I thought about my dad. I thought about his bravery, his tenacity, his courage.

You said, “I’ve had a stroke… [Oz] never let me forget that. And I might miss some words during this debate, mush two words together, but it knocked me down and I’m going to keep coming back up.”

John, keep getting back up. Regardless of what happens in the election — I’m proud of you. You showed courage and the ability to get back up, even as naysayers and doubters have questioned your ability. There are millions of stroke survivors who long to live meaningful lives. Your representation in the Senate would prove that they, too, have a voice and belong at the table. You remind me of my father. His determination, grit, and courage inspire me every day.

Thank you, John.

Brooks Fitts

Originally published: October 28, 2022
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