The magic of Leap Year Day

Photo ProvidedKrista and B.J. Witsman of Covington, Ind., were born in the same hospital on the same day — Feb. 29, 1980. The boys enjoy the fact their parents have a unique birthday. From left to right are Chase, Gage and Cole.

As teachers and parents, B.J. and Krista Witsman of Covington, Ind., find themselves in a unique position — they’re “younger” than their students and sons.

“Chase was so excited when he turned 10 because he finally became older than both of his parents,” Krista said of their eldest son.

In real time, the Witsmans — who amazingly share a Leap Year Day birthday — turn 36 on Monday. But, according to the calendar, they celebrate a birthday only every four years, which means they turn 9 on Monday.

The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are one in 1,461. However, it’s even more unusual for two Leap Year Day babies to meet and marry.

“It is very rare and unique,” Krista said.

As for being born on a special day, she added, “It’s fun. It’s a good conversation starter.”

The Witsmans are among area people who responded to a Commercial-News request looking for people born on Feb. 29. Being a Leap Year Day baby is special, everyone said, but it’s also a nuisance when websites, for example, don’t recognize Feb. 29 as a legitimate birthdate.

The “leaplings” also have come to appreciate the chance to be “younger” as they age.

Nancy Trosper of Catlin joked that she might never reach 21 (or 84 in “real” years).

She and Julia Megan Sullivan of Danville also remarked that it’s unusual to find anyone else who shares the birth date. And, when you do, Sullivan said, “It’s like finding another magical person.”

Leap Year soulmates

Beating all odds, the Witsmans were born in the same hospital on the same day, and later met in high school, not realizing they shared a birthday.

B.J.’s family moved to the Cayuga, Ind., area, and he began attending North Vermillion High School. Krista Martin was already a student there. They were juniors when they met in 1996.

One day in art class, Krista and her girlfriends invited B.J. to sit with them.

“We all began asking him questions and knowing that I had a unique birthday, I asked him what day he was born,” Krista recalled.

“Without batting an eye, he said he was born on Feb. 29! I sat there, thinking for sure my friends had put him up to saying that. As it turned out, they had not.

“That night both of us went home and told our parents about the coincidence.”

Their parents had saved the newspaper clippings about their births on Feb. 29, 1980, at Lakeview Medical Center (now Presence). Krista was born five hours earlier.

“The two of us became very good friends and the rest is history,” she said. They married on May 27, 2000.

B.J. teaches seventh-grade social studies at Westville Middle School, and Krista teaches sixth-grade reading at Southeast Fountain Elementary in Veedersburg, Ind., and also teaches part time at Danville Area Community College.

“I am blessed to teach an amazing group of sixth-grade students, who always find it comical that they are older than their teacher,” she said. “They think it’s cool their teacher is so young.”

The Witsmans’ sons also enjoy being “older” than their parents. Chase, 10, is a fifth-grader, and Cole, 6, is in kindergarten, both at Southeast Fountain, and Gage is 2 years old.

“The oldest two boys get a kick out of the fact that their parents only get a real birthday every four years,” she said. “It has always been a fun conversation to have with the boys and we enjoy their many questions.”

The biggest advantage of sharing the same birthday, Krista joked, is that they get double the parties — and double the desserts, which the boys enjoy.

“We are both very blessed with fantastic families who always plan out a very nice celebration for us, regardless if it’s a Leap Year or not,” she said.

The biggest drawback to having a spouse with the same birthday is filling out paperwork. Nine out of 10 times, she said, people will say, “I think you accidentally put your birthday down for his (or vice versa).

“It always leads to us explaining how we share a birthday and didn’t purposely write down the wrong birth date.”

The couple doesn’t have any major plans this year, but might have a big celebration when they turn 10 in four years.

FYI

• Learn more at www.leapyearday.com. The website offers resources related to Leap Year and advocates for those born on Feb. 29.

• Leap years are needed to keep the modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. Leap years generally are every four years, but there are exceptions.

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