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Clarkston man faces misfortune with optimism

June 29, 2011 - BY TREVOR TURNER

Special to the Clarkston News

Three years ago, Dan Burke of Clarkston woke up at 5 a.m. to lift weights in the basement of his home.

"That's when it blew," Burke said.

He suffered a stroke resulting from a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a tangle in arteries and veins in his brain, problably present since birth.

Twenty-five at the time and married with one child and another on the way, Burke's now ex-wife called for help. He was sent to Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, then shipped to Harper hospital in Detroit.

Burke was in a coma for a day and a half and blind for a year. He regained 20/20 vision in his right eye with help from a computer-assisted training program, Nova Vision. He now can see only with his right eye.

"When you are used to seeing and boom, one day everything is turned off, your whole independence is gone, but my children have always been there," Burke said. "My goal has been to see them and help them later in life. My children are probably the reason I lived."

To be where he is at today is a miracle, said his father, Brian Burke.

"He is never down and constantly motivated," Brian said. "People tell me everyday how much he has improved."

Dan's attitude towards his misfortune is optimistic and shows his true character.

"You can't dwell on the past if something bad happens to you, you can sit and boo-hoo about it all you want, but it's not going to make things better," he said.

Dan works at Bowman Chevrolet in Independence Township and rides his bike to and from work everyday.

He intends to get his drivers license again.

"I drove a Pontiac Grand Prix six weeks ago with a driving instructor," he said.

He drove with Michele Montagano, owner of All About Driving in Waterford.

"It was very nice of him," Dan said. "When nobody else had the guts to ride in a car with a once blind man, he did."

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