Stroke Survivor says Tampa Bay Lightning inspired him to walk again

TAMPA, Fla. — It only takes a few seconds talking to Chuck Cowart to realize he is a cup is half full kind of guy.

“I call it a pothole in my life,” Cowart said.

The 41-year-old was hospitalized for more than 4 months in 2016 after suffering an Ischemic stroke.

“At times, I get frustrated — you are able to do something your whole life and then you wake up and it’s a snap of a finger and everything is gone,” Cowart said.

His entire left side became paralyzed.

“I’m left-handed which is kind of a bummer,” Cowart said. 

Doctors told Cowart there was a chance he would never walk again, but he didn’t listen.

“I’m a fighter and I don’t take no for an answer,” Cowart said.

The die-hard Bolts fan said he looked at his stroke as a typical hockey injury and decided that if his favorite players can recover from injuries he can too.

“Whenever the Lightning get hurt, they push themselves, they get better,” Cowart said. “As they progress it motivates and inspires me to get better. I’m not a quitter.”

Players visited Cowart when he was in the hospital recovering. That gesture a true symbol to him that the team he loved, loved him back. And no matter what happens he is a loyal fan for life.

“If the lightning lose, it’s alright, I still bleed blue and white no matter what I’m Tampa Bay til I die,” Cowart said.

Cowart still has to go to therapy three times a week. He walks with a brace and slight limp. But, he is able to drive short distances. The next step in his therapy is getting the movement back in his left hand. Cowart wants to be able to write again and will do whatever it takes to get back to as normal as possible.

“Push yourself really hard,” Cowart said. “Think about something that makes you happy, you want to fight for.”

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