Enquirer Herald

York County girl celebrates "leap" birthday in style

Grandmother Debby "Dee" Gettys waited impatiently, years, for Wednesday.

Her granddaughter, tiny Baylee Walden waited, too, but she's just a kid so she didn't really understand what the big deal was all about.

"Today is my birthday," said Baylee. "I'm 4."

She's 4, yes, but Wednesday was the first time Baylee could celebrate on her birthday. Baylee was born in a leap year - Feb. 29, 2008.

"We had to celebrate on Feb. 28 for three years, so today is the first time it really is her birthday," said Gettys, the granny. "She was born just 15 minutes before March 1st.

"For us girls, this is a big deal - the biggest."

It's bigger still because, when she was 4 months old, Baylee contracted bacterial meningitis and had to fight for her life during a month in the hospital. She sure is a fighter and a smiler, too. She beat the sickness like a gong and came out giggling.

"We prayed for her birthday in our family," said Gettys. "We never knew how many she would have - or if she would even have one."

So Gettys took the day off from her job at Harold C. Johnson Elementary School in York, picked up Baylee from her mom, Lauren, and headed from Lake Wylie to Rock Hill for the best birthday ever.

"Girl stuff," said Baylee. "I'm a girl."

Baylee stomped, in her tiny sneakers with lights on them, into Vogue Spa & Salon late Wednesday morning, with her grandmother behind her wearing a T-shirt that said "My granddaughter was born February 29."

"I tried to get her to wear her black dressy shoes," said Gettys the granny.

"I wanted lights," said Baylee.

Baylee held court for a while, conducting her first interview in a life that will surely be filled with fame.

"I'm going to Chuck-E-Cheese," she said. "I'm having cake. Birthday cake."

Baylee was asked if she likes boys. She does - her brother, Dustin, age 6.

"I play baseball and basketball, too," Baylee said. She plays on the tiniest tee-ball league and on a tiny basketball team at church. To score, an adult lifts the kids up.

"She dunked on Friday," said the grandmother.

When one lady was finally done, cosmetologist Tonya Ellis called out: "Where is my birthday girl?"

Ellis offered a glass of Sprite served in a Happy Birthday wineglass. She gave Baylee birthday wings and wrapped her neck and arms in pearls and other girly stuff.

The whole salon, customers and workers, watched and smiled.

"I wish every day was a birthday - but this one is really special," said Ellis. "Baylee is a favorite here."

Baylee hopped up in the styling chair and the girl day began. First was the trim, then the curls, then the make-up, which had to include sparkles.

Ellis then took some pink color - washable - and put a soft pink streak into those golden locks.

"I had to say no to purple," said Gettys, the granny. Then the nails were done, in pink. "I'm a girl; I like pink," said Baylee.

And when it was over - before the running around at lunch and the birthday party, and the hair got messy - her grandmother and Ellis looked at her and said the same thing: "Beautiful birthday girl."

Baylee has had birthdays before, but never on the actual date she was born. Wednesday she was a star.

Wednesday she did not have to share her birthday with anyone else, although there are a couple hundred thousand other people who are "Leapsters."

So Baylee did what special girls do. She said, "Let's go shopping."