Months after suffering stroke, Big Jack is back

Months after suffering stroke, Big Jack is back

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by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7

KTVB.COM

Posted on September 29, 2013 at 10:59 PM

BOISE -- Four months after suffering a stroke, Big Jack Armstrong is back!

With a career spanning 38 years, Jack is an icon in the Idaho radio business. But when he had a stroke back in May, he feared his career was over.

"On May 17th I came in, and I couldn't put two words together, they took me to the hospital and told me I had a stroke" Jack said. "I couldn't believe it."

Jack was told the stroke was centered in the part of his brain that controls speech. The man who made his living talking on the radio for 38 years suddenly couldn't talk.

"I thought it was over" he said. "I thought I was going to have to work in radio, but not work on the air."

He began intense speech and physical therapy, and started improving faster than his doctors even thought possible.

"After two weeks, I thought there's a chance, and then after a month, two months, then three months, there's a real good chance" Jack said. "In 4 months, I've been able to return to work."

Jack didn't do it alone. His daughter, Cortni Armstrong, has been a lifesaver.

"We had just bought this radio station in February, and he had the stroke in May," said Cortni. "I had to manage the whole business side of the operation which I had never done before. It was literally sink or swim, trial by fire. I grew up quick."

Fellow DJ Dale Jeffries and other local DJs filled in, and kept the station on the air.

Big Jack says he was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring from his fans.

"I want to say thank you to the fans who have stuck by me," Jack said. "The first month, we got a lot of cards, letters, emails, phone calls."

But what was the most humbling, was the fundraiser held for Big Jack in June organized by his friends and fans.

Jack didn't have insurance at the time of the stroke, so organizers asked Paul Revere and the Raiders to perform.

About 700 people showed up.

"I knew he had a following of people but to see people come out it was so overwhelming and humbling," said Cortni. "It was incredible."

Enough money was raised in that one night to cover all of Jack's medical bills.

He still has his tough moments, and the words don't come as easily as they used to.

"It's frustrating," Jack said. "I can plan a sentence, I know what I want to say and how I want to say it, but I can't say it."

On the year anniversary of his stroke, Armstrong says he's determined to be back 100 percent.

"You can't imagine what it's like to see 37, 38 years go up in smoke. And then you realize, there's a chance and that chance has come back around so I've had a second chance at life."

In addition to thanking fans and friends, Jack also thanked his wife Patti for her unending support and dedication to his recovery.

You can listen to Big Jack on Oldies 1380 AM from at 2pm Monday through Friday. You can listen also listen to it online here.

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