What’s it like to be a leapling: Samantha Tilson

Samantha Tilson turned 16 on Feb. 29, though she is technically only four.

Samantha Tilson celebrated a milestone birthday on Feb. 29 of this year. She turned 16, got a car for her birthday and will soon receive her driver’s license.

Though you might soon see Samantha on the road, she is technically not even old enough to drive, since she has only celebrated 4 birthdays. That’s because Samantha is a rare Leap Day baby, otherwise known as a ‘leapling.’

This series has been extended, as The Review recently located two more Leaplings in Hawkins County: David Clay Lawson of last week’s installment and Samantha Tilson.

A rarityWhen you look at it from a statistical point of view, it’s quite a rarity to be born on Leap Day, and it’s even more fascinating that the Review was able to find five in Hawkins County!

All of the leaplings are scattered around the county, with Samantha hailing from Rogersville.

An article from ThoughtCo.com explained the rarity like this:

“Assuming that birthdays are spread uniformly throughout the year, a leap day birthday on February 29 is the least probable of all birthdays. We start by counting the number of calendar days in a four-year cycle. Three of these years have 365 days in them. The fourth year, a leap year has 366 days. The sum of all of these is 365+365+365+366 = 1461. Only one of these days is a leap day. Therefore, the probability of a leap day birthday is 1/1461. This means that less than 0.07% of the world’s population was born on a leap day.”

Do you celebrate differently on leap year? Though they celebrate her every year, Samantha explained that her family likes to make her Leap Day birthdays a little extra special.

“On those years, I usually have a party since it’s my actual birthday,” she said. “On years when it’s not, we just usually go out to eat.”

This year, Samantha enjoyed a family party on her birthday, as she turned four. Up until the day of the party, she actually didn’t know what her family had in store for her, as they kept it all a surprise.

She didn’t get the whole day to enjoy her party, though. She is part of the Cherokee High School softball team, who played their first game of the season at the Ripken Experience Jamboree on Saturday.

Were you due to be born on Leap Day?“They (her parents) have always said that I was due on March 1, but they didn’t really have Feb. 29 on their calendar,” she said. “My mom thought it was kind of crazy that I was born Leap Day. She’s always said the thought was in her head, but she didn’t really think I would come on that day.”

Two Leap Day babies in one family Believe it or not, Samantha’s great-aunt is also a Leap Day baby, which is a statistical anomaly.

Her great-aunt is a West Virginian who was born in 1964, exactly 40 years before Samantha.

Though they don’t live close by to celebrate in person together, Samantha told the Review that her great-aunt always sends her a birthday gift, and the two exchange birthday messages.

What day do you celebrate on?Samantha explained that she doesn’t always celebrate on the same day on non-Leap Years.

“Usually, my parents like to surprise me, and we celebrate on the closest weekend,” she said.

Have you ever had any problems with official documents?Thankfully, Samantha hasn’t had any documentation problems as a result of her birthday.

“When I went to get my driver’s permit (at 15), I did wait until March 1 because I technically couldn’t go the day before,” she said.

Advantages and disadvantages?“It’s kind of weird, honestly, but I don’t let it affect me,” Samantha said. “All of my friends talk about how their birthday is coming up, and a lot of years I have to say, ‘I don’t have a birthday.’”

Even though she did have a birthday his year, Samantha explained that her friends still had plenty of jokes.

“I went to school and said, ‘I’m turning four this year,’ and my friends joked and said, ‘wow, that makes sense’ and laughed.”

She can usually get a laugh out of anyone she tells about her unique birthday.

“People laugh and say, ‘you’re only four?’ and before, I had to say, ‘no, I’m three!’” she said. “People even say, ‘you’re the biggest four-year-old I’ve ever seen.”

In fact, one of her favorite parts of her unique birthday are the jokes she can make about it.

“Even when it’s my birthday, I can tell people that I’m younger than I really am,” she said.