A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Brad Fritz — the ‘wheelchair waver’ — debuts swimsuit Handi Calendar for those with disabilities

By Ryan Clark

NKyTribune reporter

Eden Tipton said she’d never felt this way before.

She was so comfortable with the photographer. So comfortable with … herself.


“I wouldn’t know how to put this in writing — or out to the public — but honestly, before this experience and still to this day, I struggle with being comfortable,” she said. “I actually felt ‘hot,’ for lack of a better word, but I did.”

The pictures don’t lie. And it’s just the feeling Brad Fritz said he hoped to create when he came up with the idea for the Handi Calendar, a swimsuit calendar with photos celebrating those with disabilities.

Eden, a 32-year-old Scentsy consultant and McDonald’s cashier from California, Ky., has Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, a condition she’s had since birth that permanently affects muscle control and coordination. Her physical therapist mentioned that a calendar was being produced — one that featured those with disabilities — and suggested maybe she get involved.

So she did. She got into a swimsuit and posed for the cameras.

“The experience from the calendar was amazing,” she said. “I have never felt like that before in my life. I hope people will get a better understanding that people with disabilities can do just about anything that the average person can do — it might just be a little harder and take longer depending on the severity of the disability, but it is possible.”

This was Fritz’ dream — to create this sort of feeling.

“What I want people to get out of it is to see people with disabilities and missing limbs as more than just charity cases, or someone they look at and feel sorry for,” he said. “I want people to see that we’re more than just the wheelchair or the missing limb.”

Fritz suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1999 as a high-schooler, when he was riding in a car with a drunk driver as they sped through Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell. They lost control and hit a tree, and Fritz suffered traumatic brain damage and is now confined to a wheelchair. 

He has gained local fame since the start of the pandemic by going out daily and waving to motorists on Turkeyfoot Road near his home in Northern Kentucky, and he has spent his entire adult life touring local schools to educate students on the danger of underage drinking.

The idea for the Handi Calendar came about during one of those presentations.

“I first got the idea because, when people ask what I do for a living in the question-and-answer part after my presentations, I always say I’m a part-time Speedo model,” Fritz said, laughing. “One day, I started thinking ‘why not?’ When we started doing it, I saw how much the models were loving it and how it was making them feel, so, after the fact and going forward, I want to keep doing it to empower people with disabilities and missing limbs.”

It certainly empowered Eden.

“Seeing other people with more severe disabilities than my own and realizing that they are still accomplishing their wants and dreams — even though I’ve been disabled since birth, I still struggle, but I am learning that things are possible for me even with my disability,” she said. “Because of this experience I believe that even more now.”

For the past year, Fritz has been recruiting models, photographers and sponsors to help create the calendar. Now, it’s finished, and ready for public sale.


One of those who partnered with Fritz was Lori Tharp, the Executive Director for Brain Injury Alliance of NKY, a nonprofit that supports brain injury survivors to find resources, as well as education and advocacy in the community.

“Brad Fritz is the brother of our board president and also a brain injury survivor,” Tharp said. “I was contacted by Thomas More college about (the calendar). My part in the process was the design and working with the printing company to get it from dream to fruition. I’m glad so many want to support his dream as he seeks to highlight and empower persons with disabilities. I applaud and support the individuality and inner strength of everyone who participated in this initiative.”

Tharp said more than 50 calendars were purchased in the first 24 hours of availability.

Jaime Morales is a 31-year-old military veteran who was shot in the line of duty in 2018, and it resulted in a spinal cord injury. He moved to Kentucky, and eventually heard from Fritz.

“I hope to encourage others,” Morales said of working on the calendar. “I had a great time with great people.”

All photos provided

Nicole Boggs’ life changed forever in September 2020. The 22-year-old cosmetologist was swaying on a tree swing at a family home in northern Kentucky when the trunk broke, severing her spinal cord on impact, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

“My accident was a freak accident,” she said. “My whole life was flipped upside down, but I was grateful to have my life. My mindset was, ‘what’s next? What do I need to do to get home?’ While I am still struggle with accessibility and accommodations to get a house, I continue to look for options. I had an amazing experience while doing the calendar — this photoshoot made me feel beautiful and proud of who I am becoming.”

Fritz said he hopes this can become an annual project.

“Now that it’s finished, I’m amazed at how it turned out and I’m just anxious to see how it is received by people,” he said. “I’m proud of all the models and I hope that they’re all getting a lot out of it. I want it to inspire people that all of these models with disabilities or missing limbs are out here rocking swimsuits and saying, ‘Look at us!’”

Buy the calendar here: https://www.biank.org/handicalendar?PayerID=H2QAMHVCKG3K4

Interested in participating? Contact Brad Fritz on TikTok, SnapChat or by email at bjfritz21@yahoo.com.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment