Tucker Andrew Faison isn't fond of being congratulated on his first birthday.

"He gets all huffy puffy," said his dad, state Rep. Jeremy Faison.

Tucker was born four years ago today at Newport Medical Center in Cocke County, making him one of a select group of people who only get to celebrate their true birth date once every four years.

In Leap Year parlance, that makes Tucker a "Leaper," according to the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies, an international organization with more than 10,000 members. The only membership requirement is a Feb. 29 birth date.

Being only 4 in chronological years, Tucker Faison doesn't yet appreciate the distinction of being born on Feb. 29.

"He has no clue when we tell him he's turning 1," said Faison, R-Cosby, who represents a section of Greene County in the General Assembly.

RECALLING BIRTHDAY

Faison said he was in Nashville four years ago on legislative business when he got a call on Feb. 28 from his wife, Miriam.

"She said her water broke and I said, 'You can't have it, not now, wait until 12:01 (a.m.) and we will have a leap year baby,'" Faison said.

Miriam Faison told her husband in no uncertain terms that the baby would arrive when it was ready.

"When I told her to wait, she said, 'It's coming and I'm letting it out,'" he recalled with a laugh.

Faison caught the next flight from Nashville to be at Miriam's side.

As it turned out, the baby boy was born early on the morning of Feb. 29, 2012.

"She was thrilled the next morning," Faison said. "It's exciting, very exciting."

Tucker's birthday has been celebrated on March 1 since he was born. He has a 13-year-old sister, Rebekah, whose birthday is on Feb. 28.

STAR WARS FOCUS

Being 4 years old, Tucker has interests other than his unique birth date.

"All he knows is his birthday is coming. He's into Star Wars and he is going to have a Star Wars birthday. That's all he cares about right now," Faison said.

The couple's other children are Regan and Gager, both 11, and Asher, 7.

Every four years, an extra day is added to the Georgian calendar to synchronize it with the solar year. In a leap year, the extra day is added at the end of February, giving the month 29 days instead of 28.

The extra day is called a Leap Day.

The odds of being born on Feb. 29 once every four years are 1,461 to one.

"It's kind of a big deal. We feel it's kind of special," Faison said.

'LEAPERS' IN U.S.

There is no definitive data on how many babies are born on Leap Day, but by calculating the overall odds, it's estimated there are about 20,000 "leapers" living in the U.S.

About 5 million people worldwide have a Leap Year birthdate, according to the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies.

The organization's stated mission is "promoting Leap Day awareness."

Holly Parker, who lectures about the psychology of close relationships at Harvard University, told Medical Daily that choosing one's birthday is a quirky aspect of being born on the 29th.

"There's no other birthday that offers as much freedom," Parker said. "If a person chooses to celebrate their birthday on March 1, they can literally celebrate their birthday in two different months, March for three years and February for one year. No one else gets to do that."

Some famous people born on Feb. 29 include the rapper Ja Rule, born in 1976; model and actor Antonio Sabato Jr., born in 1972; actor Dennis Farina, born in 1944; singer Dinah Shore, born in 1916; and band leader Jimmy Dorsey, born in 1904.

For more information about the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies, visit http://leapyearday.com/feb29/home.

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