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Henrico woman turns life tragedy into YouTube comedy

Posted at 11:22 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 18:42:39-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- When she puts pen to paper Kristin Beale enters her happy place. The artist from Henrico has been drawn to doodling since high school.

“Drawing is open to everyone and unique to everyone and I love that part,” Beale said.

Her comic strips aren’t just silly. For Kristin, they are a lifesaver.

“Drawing was an outlet for sharing and documenting the new experiences that were happening to me,” she said.

Kristin was gravely injured in a 2005 jet ski accident that killed her friend Mark.

The once active high school sophomore was paralyzed from the chest down. She wasn’t expected to live.

Kristin was 14 years old.

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“Traumatic brain injury and traumatic spinal cord injury,” she said about her injuries. “I lost a lot of the stuff that I loved to do which was sports."

While adjusting to life in a wheelchair proved daunting, Kristin was not deterred.

From competing nationally in fencing to finishing nine marathons, the 30-year-old woman has written three books and is working on a fourth.

She also produces a weekly comic strip.

“I’m a normal girl. I just happen to be sitting down,” she said.

But one thing remained elusive, a long-term relationship.

“Everyone can relate to a bad date. I just happen to have a lot of them and a lot of stories to tell,” she said.

Kristin would use her many fruitless dates as material in her comics and book “Date Me.”

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Now her story is streaming for all to see.

“Date Me” is a series that premiered on YouTube this month.

The locally-produced show is attracting professional actors from across the country.

Emily Shenaut portrays Kristin as she navigates the dating scene.

“It’s a testimony. It’s a conversation starter. It’s a book topic. It is a TV show plot. It’s everything,” Kristin said.

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For the producer, “Date Me” affirmed how determination, creativity, and a sense of humor can alter the trajectory of your life, no matter the circumstance.

“I’m taking a very unfortunate situation and I’m putting humor to it and making it lighter," Kristin said.

As for dating and searching for Mr. Right? That is behind Kristin too.

In 2020, her boyfriend Chris popped the question.

Kristin said yes.

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“I’m getting married in April,” Kristin said.

Make no mistake there have been plenty of pitfalls along her journey. But artist Kristin Beale is making sure her road to success is paved with plenty of ink.

“Seeing disability represented in art and comics is rare and I am proud to represent that community in that way,” Kristin said. “Life is so much fun. There is so much to laugh at. There is so much to smile at. It is different from the normal life and I enjoy that.”

The studio will start shooting the next episode of “Date Me” when they raise enough funding.

You can follow Kristin here.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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