LONG ISLAND - A pair of twins from Long Island that were born prematurely and told they would never live a normal life are celebrating today as they head off to college with scholarships and bright futures in front of them.
Lindsey and Jaiden Wettstein were born in 2004 at just 26 weeks.
"We knew that they were going to be early," said their dad, Tim.
Lindsey weighed just over a pound and Jaiden not much more than that.
"They never expected him to make it at all," said their mom Michelle. "I went into preterm labor."
The twins spent 89 days in the NICU followed by a challenging childhood.
"Early on, they had chronic lung disease, tracheomalacia," Michelle said.
But miraculously they made it.
"Right off the bat, they said they’ll never compete, and he wound up being a competitive ballroom dancer and she became a lacrosse goalie," Michelle said.
The family credits the support of Angela’s House, a Suffolk County-based charity and part of the newly-formed Kinexion network that they say helped defy negative doctor diagnoses and made life a little easier.
"They were connected to us early and it’s one of the great success stories," said founder Bob Policastro.
Jaiden is headed to Johns Hopkins to study vocal performance and Romance languages.
"It hit me when we had to ship off our boxes today," Jaiden said.
Lindsey will study theater tech and play lacrosse at Emerson College. Both received scholarships to pursue their passion.
"It’s definitely going to be weird not having him by my side 24/7," Lindsey said.
For the first time in 18 years the dynamic duo will go different ways - 4 hours in opposite directions … 400 miles apart.
"The fact that we’ll be away from each other will be really weird," Jaiden said.
And back home… it will be quiet to say the least.
"Little things, you know, realizing how much I’m going to miss them," Tim said.
He’ll miss them knowing as a team everyone offered plenty of support for success.
"I hope they’ll fly on their own and make their own paths," Tim said.