It’s A Leap Year: For one man, that means another birthday

This year we get an extra day. It’s a Leap Year. For most of us it is a neat topic of conversation, something to talk about and remember why our calendar has a Feb. 29 every four years.

Jerry Vliem
Jerry Vliem

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

And that’s all the farther it goes, forgetting about it until the next Leap Year.

But for some, they wait patiently for this date, and a chance to celebrate the special occassion.

Lodgepole, S.D. resident Jerry Vliem will celebrate his 16th birthday, yet he will be 64 years old.

How can that be?

Well, that’s because Vliem is a member of the Leap Year Baby club.

What is a Leap Year? Technically it takes the Earth 365.25 days to make its way around the sun. So to make up for that extra fourth of a day, every four years we are gifted an extra day, Feb. 29.

Those lucky enough (or unlucky depending on if you’re a glass half empty kind of a person) to be born on Feb. 29 like Vliem, are known as a ‘leapling,’ ‘leaper,’ or ‘leap-year baby.’

Chances of being born on a Feb. 29 date are very rare, and according to an article by International Business Times, you have a 1 in 1,461 chances of having a leap year birthday.

Vliem, who drives and works service for Lodgepole Company in Lodgepole, said he doesn’t remember his family having to explain his birthday predicament, and said that “it’s just the way it was.”

He always referred to his birthday as being in February, so typically he and his family would celebrate it on Feb. 28, as oppose to celebrating it on March 1. Those celebrations were also on Feb. 28 in school.

He never had any sad emotion about missing a Feb. 29 birthday, his parents made sure he still had a special day.

“The folks kind of made it so that it wasn’t a problem,” Vliem said. “I still had a birthday.”

Growing up, he said it was always a conversation piece. He only knows one other person, that he met later in life, that shares the unique birthdate with.

His birthday bashes have alway been bigger and better every four years. His family made sure to celebrate extra extravagantly, because he only has an actual birthday every four years, so you should make it count.

“On my fourth year it’s always been a bigger, better party,” Vliem said.

He’s in an exclusive club, and he has a sense of humor about it.

“One thing about it, I can always act my age,” Vliem said. “I’ll be 16 this year.”

Vliem said his wife also appreciates his unique birthday and gets into the humor, saying that she “enjoys being married to a teenager.”