SMITHFIELD, Utah (KSTU) — In 2004, while their father was hospitalized after being wounded in Iraq, a set of quintuplets was born in Chicago and their story touched hearts around the country. Now, those siblings are high school graduates.
The Horton family welcomed five children into the world in difficult circumstances as the father was severely wounded in Iraq shortly before they were born.
Coira, Portter, Lachlan, Addyson and Caitlynn Horton weighed less than two pounds each at birth and were initially hospitalized in critical condition.
18 years later, they’re now graduates of Sky View High School in Smithfield and they’re ready to take on a new challenge: adulthood.
“I was just thinking the other day, in the moment with them, time has gone by so slow,” reflected their mother, Taunacy Horton. “Then, at the same time, it’s gone by so fast.”
Sadly, Addyson died just 19 days after she was born but her memory lives on in the lives of each of her siblings.
“I’m a mother of quintuplets, I had five babies at one time,” Taunacy said. “Even though people see four of them, in our home, there’s always five.”
At birthdays, there were five cakes, and at major life milestones, they took the time to remember and honor Addyson. High school graduation was no different.
To honor their sister, Coira, Portter, Lachlan and Caitlynn all donned a Gerber daisy with an “A” on their graduation gowns.
“They’re very aware of her, and I know that they wanted her to be here today, and she is,” Taunacy said. “Wherever they go in life, she’ll be there with them and that’s always brought me peace.”
All four siblings said they wanted to do something special for their sister and wish she was there to collect her own diploma.
“It’s kind of special because I really want to do achievements for her,” Caitlynn reflected. “So this is one big one that I can do for her.”
“In a way, (it’s) a little sad but also exciting because it’s like she’s walking with us on the stage,” Coira added.
Though the quintuplets may look similar, they all have very different interests and they’re now headed in separate directions for the first time in their lives.
Coira is the oldest and will stay close to home at Utah State University, where she’s planning to study wildlife and ecology. Her long-term goal is to become a park ranger.
“I am the oldest by one minute. … I make sure they all know that,” she laughed. “It’s exciting, I don’t know what to think about it, don’t know how to feel about it yet.”
Next is Portter, who is still determining what’s next for him. He’s grateful for the unique opportunity he’s had as a quintuplet and knows one thing for sure; he loves to sing.
“Choir’s been a blast,” he said ahead of his graduation performance of the song “This Little Light of Mine.” “I’ll be singing tonight in the choir.”
Lachlan plans to head back to his birthplace of Illinois to be with his father and pursue community college.
“Ever since kind of an early age … I’ve always been interested in history,” he explained. “So, I’m going to go into history and maybe teaching.”
The youngest of the group, Caitlynn, wore a space suit under her graduation gown and has her sights set on being an astronaut.
“I’m going to college in Iowa…Iowa State,” she said. “I want to be an astronaut later on, but that’s a start.”
It’s a bittersweet day for the Horton family as one door closes and four individual doors open in the lives of each of the quints.
“Even though they’re going all different places, they’ll still find a way to be connected,” Taunacy reflected.
But the Horton quintuplets have been overcoming the odds since birth, and they are ready to take on whatever comes their way next.