Millions to mark rare Leap Day birthday on February 29

Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:10pm EST
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By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some people devote their lives to ending world hunger, some to lifting children from poverty, and still others to getting Leap Day the respect it deserves.

The cause may seem frivolous but it is not the least bit trivial to leapers, those born on February 29, a date that appears on calendars once every four or sometimes eight years.

Leapers face a range of troubles over their birthdays, from computer snafus to police suspicion during traffic stops to hearing about delivery room negotiations to alter their birth certificate to a day earlier or a day later.

"I've had people tell me to my face, 'Who cares?'" said Raenell Dawn, who with Peter Brouwer in 1997 created The Honor Society for Leap Year Day Babies. The online club for people born on February 29 boasts more than 9,000 members.

"I'll tell you who cares. One in 1,461 of us do," Dawn said, citing the chance to be born on Leap Day. There are just over 200,000 leapers in the United States and just under 5 million worldwide, she said.

Lest non-leapers dismiss leapers' complaints, leapers point out that salaried employees are working for free this February 29 since paychecks are based on a 365-day year.

February 29 is not recognized by some computer services and software programs that power everything from banking to life insurance, Brouwer said.

"Leap year deniers claim February 29 is an invalid date," said Brouwer, who said he was told by Crown Life Insurance Co. that March 1 had to be listed on his policy because the company's computer system balked at his February 29 birthday.   Continued...