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Forever young: Beacon “Leapsters” ready to celebrate birthdays

A handful of Beacon associates are super excited about their birthdays Saturday.

As they should be. Their birthdays only appear on the calendar every four years.

We caught up with Judy Cassity, Alexis Selvesyuk and Doug Cripe — who are among Beacon’s lucky “Leapers” — to find out what it will be like to officially celebrate their birthdays this year.

Judy Cassity, RN
Memorial Hospital
Ambulatory Care Center
Leap age on Saturday: 14
Real age: 56

Q: What did it feel like when you were younger to only have a “real” birthday every four years?
A: I had four older brothers, so I really don’t remember when I wasn’t teased that I didn’t get a birthday and being told I was two when I was actually eight.  I hated it when I was little, but once I was a little older I liked the idea of it.  

Q: When do you celebrate your birthday when there is no Feb. 29?
A: I celebrate my non-birthday on both February 28th and March 1st because I am technically not a year older until the 1st. I admit I use my birthday month as an excuse to buy myself something special. 

Q: What question do you get asked the most about your birthday?
A: Most people ask me, “How does Leap Year work?” and I tell them that my birthday comes once every four years and is added to the calendar because the earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days.  

Q: Do you know any other “Leapsters”?
I actually took care of a patient this week who is also Leap Year. What are the odds?

Q: Any milestone birthday plans?
A: As Leap Year only comes every four years, you don’t really hit any milestones except your 16th birthday on  Leap Year.  I do plan to throw myself a “Sweet 16” party when I turn 64.

Q: Ever wish you had a regular birthday like everyone else?
A: I wouldn’t change my birthday. I feel very blessed to be alive and healthy and grateful I am able to celebrate. I think nursing puts the value of life into perspective. There is really no downside to having a Leap Year birthday, it’s just another fun thing to celebrate.  

Alexis Selvesyuk
Nursing assistant
Elkhart General Hospital
Leap age on Saturday: 5
Real age: 20

Q: How did your family help make you feel special when it wasn’t a Leap Year?
A: I remember my mom telling me that we can celebrate my birthday whenever I want since it doesn’t come every year. And my friends decorated my locker for me. I felt so special because not a lot of people share the same birthday as me and it’s truly my special day.

Q: What question are you asked most often about being a Leap Year birthday?
A: I am usually asked how old I am if I only have a birthday every four years. Tomorrow, I will be 5.

Q: What’s the best part about having a Feb. 29 birthday?
A: The best part is having an extra special day every four years that we get to celebrate. The worst part is no one knows when to tell you happy birthday on non-Leap Year years. Tomorrow will be extra special because I will be leaving my teenager years.

Q: Do you have any stories to share about your birthday?
A: A funny story about being born on Feb. 29 at Elkhart General. My parents are Ukrainian and back in the day, Ukrainian health officials would write March 1st if there was a child born on Feb. 29. When my mom gave birth to me on the 29th, my dad asked the nurses to write March 1st on the birth certificate. Obviously the nurses declined — thank goodness!

Q: Is there anything you would change about your birthday?
A: I would not change my birthday to any other day. I love how rare the day is and you don’t really come across a lot of people with the same birthday.

Doug Cripe
Elkhart General Hospital
Leap age on Saturday: 15

Real age: 60

Q: What do you remember about being told that you only have a “real” birthday every four years? Did you feel extra special or left out?
A: I’ve enjoyed having a Leap Year since it seems unique. I’ve had fun with it through the years, so I’ve never minded having a Leap Year birthday. I enjoyed the attention of my first Leap Year when the Goshen News did a story on me.

Q: When do you typically celebrate your birthday on a non-Leap year?
A: Sometimes all week long, though usually on the weekend.

Q: How do you respond to questions like, “How does it feel to only have a birthday once every four years,” when you’re asked them over and over again?
A: I respond that I don’t mind having a birthday every four years, for it makes them extra special and I age slower than everyone else!

Q: Have you ever met anyone else with a Leap Year birthday?
A: Yes, on my first Leap Year birthday, when I was four years old, another girl and I had our picture in the Goshen News together. We went through school together, and I recently reconnected to her.

Q: Have you ever celebrated a milestone birthday on a leap year?
A: When I turned 4 in Leap Years (16), my friends had a surprise birthday party and brought gifts for a 4 year old.

On my 7th Leap Year (28), I was a student minister and the congregation had a surprise party and all the children brought gifts for a 7 year old.

On my 10th Leap Year (40), my son turned 10 years old in February, so the local news station did an interview of us since father and son turned 10 the same year.

Q: What are the BEST and WORST things about having a Leap Year birthday?
A: I especially enjoy the expression on people’s faces when I first tell them how old I am in Leap Years. It takes some people a while to figure out what I mean.

Q: If you could change your birthday to be like most everyone else’s, would you?
A: No. I would not change the day. I love having a Leap Year birthday!