Jewell Cardwell

Some folks are deliriously happy every four years when Leap Year gives us an extra day.

But those born on a Leap Day often feel a little shortchanged because their official birthday comes around only every four years.

Leap Day baby Dodi Meade has learned to roll with it.

Meade was born Feb. 29, 1928, in Denver, later moving to Akron. She is looking forward to her big day, given that it means at 21 she’s now old enough to attend cocktail parties.

The Rockynol retirement community resident — who others insist will be 84 — said she always found it strange as a child in the non-Leap Years. “I would wake up on the 28th, looking forward to the next day, when it would be my birthday. But it would already be March 1.”

No matter how you add up her age, she’s certainly built an impressive resume, especially in the area of community service: past president of the University of Akron Faculty Women’s Club, two PTAs (Rankin and Perkins Middle School), Children’s Concert Society, Akron Symphony Women’s Guild and Tuesday Musical Club; former trustee of the Greater Akron Musical Association; past chairmanships of Ohio Mart and Stan Hywet (where she logged more than 6,300 volunteer hours); and more.

Eight years ago, Meade figured all those years of unofficial birthdays were finally going to be worth it when she and other Leap Day babies were invited to report to the Goodyear blimp headquarters for a special lift. Only that wasn’t to be, she said.

They were taking the first 40 people. Even though she arrived at the crack of dawn, she was too far back in line to qualify. “But the Goodyear blimp people sent me a letter with a certificate to ride the next time,” in four years.

Then her husband, Claude, became very ill and again she couldn’t go.

This year she has real plans to celebrate by lunching with her old bridge club pals. She plays two or three times a week and belongs to three different book clubs.

Meade went almost a lifetime without meeting another person born on Leap Day, but felt like she hit the jackpot several years back at an Akron Symphony Women’s Guild luncheon. “I was at a table of six and there were three us who were born on Leap Day,” she said, a big smile leaping to her face.

Starting his teens again

The first time he was 13, Mark Weinberger was in the throes of planning for and celebrating his bar mitzvah, a coming-of-age ritual in the Jewish tradition.

This time around, when Weinberger — a married father of two and a lawyer with a practice in Cuyahoga Falls — commemorates his 13th birthday, it will be another memorable event.

Weinberger is another Leap Year baby, born Feb. 29, 1960. He’s turning 52 if you ignore the fact that his real birthday comes around only every four years.

His wife, Teresa, said she’s thrown a big party for her husband every four years in observance of the specialness of the day. “When it’s not Leap Year, he chooses both days, Feb. 28 and March 1,” she joked. “Sometimes the entire week!”

For this birthday, he will say a prayer he read for his bar mitzvah, his wife said. That’s scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Akron’s Temple Israel.

“He’s been practicing with the cantor because he will be reading it in Hebrew,” his wife said, adding that it falls on Rock Shabbat, where the music is set to rock ’n’ roll.

Yet another interesting aside to this story is that Mark Weinberger has an aunt in New York who is also a Leap Year baby and will be celebrating her 25th birthday. Or put another way, she’s going to be 100. “They always have a lot of fun teasing each other,” his wife said.

Rebuilding fundraiser

Rebuilding Together of Portage County is hosting its major fundraiser, Bowl to Rebuild, from 1 to 3 p.m. March 31 at Twin Star Lanes, 1799 E. Main St. (state Route 59), Kent, with all proceeds to benefit qualifying county residents in need of home repairs.

Rebuilding Together sponsors an annual Rebuilding Day in the spring, when teams of volunteers provide free and often critical home repairs to residents in need, said Randy Lipscomb, vice president of the advisory board.

“They change lives and preserve homeownership for many who are living in unsafe conditions,” Lipscomb said.

The mission of Rebuilding Together is to keep low-income elderly and disabled homeowners (who are current on their homeowners insurance and real-estate taxes) safe, warm and dry.

Teams of five bowlers are needed to raise money for that mission. Interested? Please call 330-773-4100 for information.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or jcardwell@thebeaconjournal.com.