A birthday that’s truly number one: Two Naples kids turn 11 on 11/11/11

When Kim Hochman gave birth to her son Cameron Hochman on Nov. 11, 2000, it didn’t take her mother-in-law long to figure out that the newborn would one day have a very special birthday.

“My mother-in-law is very savvy with dates. She actually figured it out on the day Cameron was born and mentioned it to us in the hospital. I remember thinking, that is very far away,” said Hochman.

But the day is here, and for at least two local Naples children, it’s a birthday they’ll never forget.

Across town, Ellie Mae Wood is also 11 today, and she’s celebrating in a big way.

“I’m having a party at my mom’s restaurant, Jane’s on Third,” she said excitedly, adding, “some of my sister’s friends are going to do face painting, and there’s going to be a deejay and an artist airbrushing T-shirts.”

The Community School’s entire fifth grade is invited and in lieu of bringing gifts, the 11-year-old, who was amazingly born at 1:11 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2000, has asked for her friends to donate the money they would have spent on gifts to the Camaraderie Foundation. This foundation provides counseling and wellness services to veterans and their families. And since Wood will be donating her birthday money through Fifth Third Bank, the bank has agreed to match the funds.

“She’s always been aware that her birthday was on Veterans Day,” said her mother, Jane Wood, “and her grandfather served in the Army, so she knew she wanted to donate the money to veterans and kids of veterans.”

For Cameron Hochman, today’s birthday festivities will certainly be a bit mellower — but it doesn’t mean being 11 on 11/11/11 is any less exciting.

“We have a cousin’s wedding this weekend out of town, so we’ll actually be flying on his birthday. We plan to have a birthday party on Friday with his Papa and Gramma and family. It will be special because we will be celebrating with many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and extended family that we don’t get to see very often. We will even get to see his 93-year-old great grandmother,” said his mother.

But he’ll get a “real” birthday party soon. The family has plans for a special birthday dinner with his grandparents who live here locally in Naples when they return, and they’re planning to have a sleepover party for a few of his close friends in the next few weeks, too.

And besides the excitement of having a birthday that looks remarkably like binary code, both Wood and Hochman are looking forward to the privileges the extra year will hopefully allow them.

“When I turn 12 I get to go to the gym, so I’m one year closer to that,” Wood said.

Hochman, in turn, is hoping the extra year will be good leverage for pushing his bedtime back an hour.

But new freedoms aside, for both of them it will be a day they never forget.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Wood, adding, “it’s not very common and it’s going to be a big day.”

Her grandfather Ron Cockings, who is visiting from England to witness the big day, added, “She’s been on about it all year, really.”

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