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Local ‘Leaper’ to Celebrate His Rare Birth Date

by and on February 29, 2020 5:00 AM

PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE — For most, birthday celebrations roll around every year. But, for those born on the special date of Feb. 29, leap day babies, leapers or leaplings have to wait a little longer for their special day to roll around again — four years longer, to be exact.

Today, thousands of people across the world who celebrate Feb. 29 as their leap year birthday are once again be able to celebrate on that specific day — unlike Feb. 28 or March 1, the days they normally have to recognize as the anniversary of their births during non-leap years.

Sometimes, leapers will say their age along with their leap year age when they are asked. There is an approximate 1 in 1,461 chance of having a baby on leap day.

Nolan Dibert, of Pennsylvania Furnace, is one of those leapers, and he has gone around the sun four times since he was born at Mount Nittany Medical Center four years ago. But on Saturday, he will finally be able to celebrate his official day of birth. Such is the life of a person born on leap day — filled with questions, some confusion and every four years, an extra special birthday.

For Nolan’s parents, Michelle and Chris Dibert, having a leap baby may be a cool experience, but it does mean answering a lot of questions.

“People want to know so many things, like when we celebrate his birthday every year,” said Michelle. “But everyone has a lot of questions, even when we go to the doctor we say his birthday is Feb. 29 and they are like, ‘It can’t be.’ Everyone forgets about a leap year.”

The Diberts usually celebrate Nolan’s birthday on March 1, but this year they're celebrating on the actual day. Michelle said she was considering having a big party, but with the concerns of the flu going around, she is keeping the party to close friends, family and children his age. But that doesn’t make it less exciting, she said.

“I am actually very excited because it is like he is turning 1,” said Michelle, noting it will be an extra special day for Nolan, even if he may not be very aware of why yet.

“I think it’s pretty unique, but he doesn’t really understand it or know it yet. So we will wait and see what he thinks when he gets older, maybe in a few years. Whenever he gets it, it will be a little more fun for him,” said Chris.

Michelle remembers thinking when she found out her due date was near Feb. 28 that it would be neat to have a leap baby, but she figured it wouldn’t happen. Her older son, Colton, came early and she just figured that Nolan would to. But then her due date passed and things got exciting. A family friend called the special birthday beforehand.

“We weren’t sure if he would be here on that day because he was actually five days late,” said Michelle. “We have a close friend that when he found out we were going to have a baby on leap year, he kept saying ‘he’s going to come leap day.’ I was like ‘I don’t know.’ Everybody was like, ‘that would be so cool if that happened.’ After he was born, we had a crowd of people coming to see him, the leap baby, at the hospital.”

Mount Nittany Medical Center reported that Nolan was one of two boys and two girls born at the hospital on Feb. 29, 2016. Since the 2000 leap year, there have been 17 total leap year babies born at MNMC with Feb. 29, 2000, being the busiest leap day with five births. Of the 17 leap day babies born at the center since 2000, six leaper hailed from State College, three from Bellefonte and one each from Aaronsburg, Boalsburg, Coburn, Falls Creek, Pennsylvania Furnace, Shawville, Tyrone and Warriors Mark.

This year MNMC is planning ahead with goodies for any leap babies born at the medical center, said Anissa Rupert Ilie, communications coordinator, media relations and executive communications. Also, in honor of leap year, the hospital plans to take pictures of the little leapers in frog outfits.

So far, the Diberts haven’t had to deal with any obstacles when it comes to Nolan’s special birthday date, but Michelle said it did take longer to get his birth certificate, and she is unsure of what might unfold in the future.

“They say when it is time to get his license and driving, he may get a little grief about that,” said Michelle. “But we’ll see. You think that they would be able to realize by now that it is a day, just not every year.”

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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