Source AP ©

Sextuplets celebrate their 10th birthdays in New York

Six birthday cakes for six little miracles.

In 1997, the four Boniello sisters and their two brothers set a U.S. record for the longest sextuplet pregnancy when they were born - weighing only about 2 pounds (91 grams) each - at Stony Brook University Hospital.

On Thursday, personalized cakes were presented to thriving fourth-graders Trifon Robert, Olivia Fredericka, Sabrina Juliet, Gerard Martin, Sophia Betty and Stella Raquel, who turned 10 years old on March 24.

"They've been blessed," said mom Beverly Boniello, 37, who was pregnant 29 weeks and a day. "They have no health issues; it's amazing."

Dr. Richard Fine, dean of the school of medicine, conceded that premature sextuplets can be at risk for developmental or neurological problems.

"The fact that these six children appear to be quite normal, and according to their parents there's no substantive difficulties in school that's apparent, I think is really phenomenal," Fine said. "Why this happened? I have no idea. Hopefully we attribute some of it to the care that they received prenatally and in the neonatal ICU."

Both parents said they have striven to provide as normal a lifestyle as possible. They have avoided publicity for the past decade.

"I know it doesn't seem normal, but we want to grow up like a normal family and a normal family doesn't have a camera in their face every day," said dad Rocco Boniello.

His wife, a former mail carrier, said running their Williston Park household is a full time job.

Like any other family, each child has a unique personality and interests.

Trifon likes soccer, Sophia does bowling, Gerard takes piano, Sabrina did gymnastics, Olivia likes knitting.

"And Stella is ... she's a bit of a tomboy," her dad said. "She'll be wearing a dress and have a purse on hanging upside down from a tree or digging in rocks all day."

Acting as the spokesman for his siblings, Trifon - technically the oldest - stood on tiptoes at a podium to address members of the media gathered for the celebration.

"My family and I are glad to be here and thanks for the scholarships," he said shyly.

When asked later what it's like to have so many siblings, Trifon confessed: "It's tiring, because I don't know who to play with."

When the sextuplets were babies, the Boniellos relied heavily on relatives and friends to help with chores - including an estimated 72 bottles and 70 diapers per day.

"We had terrific garbage men back then, because we threw out the foulest garbage," Rocco recalled, laughing.

But mom said now it's all a matter of routine. "I make their lunches the night before; they're showered and everything the night before," she said.

In the morning before school, "the cereal bowls are on the table with the cereal. They eat, they dress themselves. They're good in the morning, they're very responsible when it comes to getting ready for school."

The sextuplets are divided into pairs at the Center Street School. They change partners once a year, so each has attended class with a different sibling.

The party was held on the campus where they will eventually attend college _ tuition free.

Dad Rocco, a technician with Verizon, said the $100,000-plus scholarship offer _ made by Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny after the births - is something he already appreciates.

"I'm not going to lie; this helps considerably," he said. "A family of seven in New York today, it's really tight."

That's right, dad said seven. When the sextuplets were about 4, their mom gave birth to another baby sister, Nadia.

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