‘Leapling’ will add years at slower pace

Famous leap year day babies include singer Dinah Shore and rapper Ja Rule.



YOUNGSTOWN — It was a special day in more ways than one when Kailey Margaret Hamady was delivered into the world.

A sleepy 6.9 pounds, St. Elizabeth Health Center’s first leap year day baby of 2008 arrived 15 days early at 1:01 a.m. Friday.

“It was kind of planned, but it wasn’t planned,” said tired mother Kristen Hamady, an Austintown resident, who underwent induced labor the night before. “The doctor came in and said, ‘If you don’t hurry up, you’re going to have a leap year baby.’”

Briefly, Mrs. Hamady stopped to ponder her daughter’s future: Only seven birthdays before 30, only 17 before 70.

“I was looking at the clock thinking, ‘Come on, we can do it,’” she said.

In the end, Mrs. Hamady’s comfort prevailed over concerns about her daughter’s future birthday celebrations.

“I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “She’ll have a birthday every year no matter what, and then, on leap year, she’ll have two.”

Friday at St. Elizabeth’s, little Kailey was one of only a few babies born into that anomalous time slot, reserved for the spare change in the earth’s 365.2422-day rotation around the sun. (The formula isn’t perfect, and every 100 years a leap day is skipped, unless that year can be divided by 400.)

She will join the estimated 4 million leap babies whose ranks include singer Dinah Shore and rapper Ja Rule, according to The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies, one of three organizations that exist to promote the interest of “leaplings.” The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are one in 1,461, or 0.0684 percent, the honor society reports.

Countries around the world marked the extra day with celebrations and mass birthday parties. The society is lobbying to have Feb. 29 honored as a holiday, like Groundhog’s Day.

Celebrating in Lake Whales, Fla., was fellow leap day baby and Austintown native Mildred Witherstine Elswick. Elswick, 76, marked her 19th birthday Friday in her adopted home of 33 years.

Elswick got her first taste of fame as a leap baby in 1936, when she was photographed by the now-defunct Telegram newspaper. She was 4 at the time, celebrating her first birthday. Her image was published alongside a fellow “leaper” who was celebrating his 19th.

“You know I can still remember that happening,” she said in a phone interview from Florida.

Elswick returned last year on a mission to locate that photo. She and her son found it in the archives at the library.

Elswick has no complaints about the sporadic date that marks her birth.

“It’s fabulous. Because you only get one every four years, there’s a bigger deal made about it,” she said. “I have already gone to a big party.”


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