Welcoming a giant leap

By Ed Brock

Dianne Roberts will never live to see her 40th birthday.

Neither will her young student, Eagle's Landing Middle School 6th grader Devon Lee.

They would be 160 years old by the time that birthday would come around.

On Sunday, Feb. 29, Roberts, 43, will celebrate her 11th birthday (and turn 44) and 11-year-old Lee will celebrate her third birthday but will turn 12 in normal years. They are leap year babies.

"My parents say I act like a little kid, and I say yeah, of course!" Lee said.

Leap Years come roughly every four years, or in years divisible by four, and it is only in leap years that February has 29 days. So like many others in Clayton and Henry counties Roberts and Lee have to make do with either Feb. 28 or March 1 for their birthday in three of those four years.

"We celebrate on March 1 because my due date was March 1," Lee said.

Roberts said she learned that Lee was a Leap Year baby when she was explaining her own birthday to the class by joking with them about turning 11 this Sunday.

"At that moment she said ?I'll be three,'" Roberts said.

As an added twist to Lee's story, she was also born at 2:29 p.m. and the hospital put her mother in room 229.

Roberts and Lee said they actually have met several other Leap Year babies throughout their lives.

Carol Smith of Hampton hasn't been that lucky.

"I don't even know anyone else with the same birthday as me," Smith said.

For others the special birthday seems to run in the family.

Lynn Borton's 12-year-old son David Borton was born on Feb. 29 and so was his paternal grandfather. When David was born his grandfather, George Linus Borton, asked why the boy wasn't named after him.

"He said he's born on my birthday, you can at least name him after me," Lynn Borton said.

Borton's father was born on Feb. 28, so they usually celebrate David's birthday on that day. Having a special birthday this year doesn't make David greedy for gifts.

"Nothing more than usual," David said.

Hannah Bagwell of Morrow, who will turn 8 in real years Sunday and 2 in leap years, was apparently eager to be born on the special day. So eager she came into the world four months early, said her mother Judy Bagwell.

"She touched a lot of people's hearts at the hospital, weighing just one pound and 14 ounces," Bagwell said.

On Friday Bagwell and her husband Michael Bagwell were still discussing their plans for Hannah's birthday party.

"She likes to go to Ryan's (Steak House) because they put a napkin on your head and sing happy birthday to you," Bagwell said.

At 18 in leap years, 72-year-old Bob Hearn of Jonesboro is finally becoming a man.

He'll probably just celebrate with a simple party at home.

"I was going to do something big, like take a trip," Hearn said, but circumstances do not permit.

Here are some more Leap Year facts.

If a year is divisible by 100 it is not a leap year, but if it's divisible by 400 it is a leap year. The remaining leap years for the first half of the 21st century are 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036, 2040, 2044 and 2048.