Local Leapster Celebrating First ‘Real’ Birthday at Four-Years-Old


JOHNSTON, Iowa — Saturday is Leap Day, and the odds of being born on February 29th, a day that happens only once every four years, are quite slim. In fact, there’s less than a one-percent chance or about one in every 1,500. For Johnston’s Eli O’Brion, he’s one of those special few many call leapers, leapsters, or leaplings.

“How old are you Eli?” Channel 13’s Whitney Blakemore asked.

“Are you three or are you zero?” Jordan O’Brion, Eli’s father asked as Eli held up three fingers.

We first met Eli four years ago when he was born on February 29th, 2016 at UnityPoint Health’s Methodist Hospital in Des Moines.

“We didn’t think a whole lot of it right away. It was one of those things where it was February 29th and it wasn’t much of a thought because [my wife] was ready to go,” O’Brion said. “This is our second kid so it was still a surprise so we didn’t really know. He was a little more difficult which that was the start of the greatness because he came and he was a boy and was one of the first boys in our family. Then he’s a redhead so we were like, ‘you’re all sorts of unique going on there.'”

Now four years later, Eli is excited to celebrate his first real birthday. The theme of his party on Saturday is “police officer” because of his love for donuts, the television show “Paw Patrol” and their walkie-talkies.

Though Eli is still pretty young to understand exactly how Leap Day works, his family, especially his older sister, likes to tease him about his age.

“He’s so excited about having a birthday and we say ‘you don’t have a birthday this year’ and it’s fun to mess with him,” O’Brion said. “My brother in law has been on his case about ‘you’re zero and you don’t have a birthday this year or you’ll be one this year.’ It’s been fun. As he gets older I think it’s going to be fun to do more of ‘you don’t get presents this year’ and bother him and that type of stuff.”

The O’Brions say on non-Leap Years they just celebrate sometime in February. Things could get interesting though when it comes to big milestones like turning 21. Most of the United States recognizes a leap day baby has legally “aged” on March 1st of non-leap years.


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