The odds of giving birth to quadruplets without fertility drugs is 1 in 11 million, but that's exactly what happened to Brenda Furtick. In 1990, Brenda welcomed identical sons Victor, Jason, Kevin and Keith into the world. The boys first appeared on The Oprah Show when they were just 10 years old.
The Furtick quads had become familiar faces to many Americans thanks to appearances in commercials for companies like Wendy's, Levi's Jeans and Nationwide Insurance. Over the years, they've grown from young boys with their own secret language to pre-teens teasing each other about girls to college freshmen, separated for the first time.
Jason, who goes to school in Ohio, says being away from his brothers, who all live in New York City, can be lonely. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don’t question my decision. But, essentially, I had to do it for me, and they understand that," he says. "Growing up with them, it was always difficult for us to actually create an identity."
During their childhood, these young men say they were always known as "The Furtick Quads."
"We all want to have a sense of individuality," Kevin says. "Every opportunity we get, we want people to recognize us as individuals."
The first step towards individuality? They stopped dressing alike, Jason says. As they've grown up, they've also tried to distinguish themselves by pursuing different interests.
"We completely acknowledge and accept and are grateful for the fact that we are quadruplets, and we understand it's a miracle and it's a blessing," Keith says. "But at the same time, we're 20 years old. We have to eventually become individuals, and still support each other at the same time."
As young boys, the Furticks say they did have a secret language, though they've put that behind them. "Are we even sure what it was? All we know is it was a verbal way for us to communicate that other people couldn't understand. That's the best definition I have," Jason says.
Though they may opt for English these days, Victor says they are still able to communicate without others catching on. "We can have a conversation without opening our mouths," he says. "I'll give Jason a look, and he'll know what I'm saying."
One thing they say that anyone can understand is "I love you." Jason says the brothers' affection for each other often surprises people. "When we're around our friends who don't necessarily do that, they don't understand our bond," he says. "I've had people ask me 'Did you really just tell your brother you love him?' ... Anyone close to us knows how much we love each other and how much we care for each other, so we have no problem saying that in front of people."
Raising four identical boys in one house was a big job for the quadruplets' parents. "We had nannies growing up," Keith says. "Our mom was a housewife, and our dad had to work.... But [our mom] did have a lot of help because I think taking us out and getting us to events and auditions was so much.:
Kevin says he and his brothers are all aware of how lucky they've been.
"We feel grateful that we had both of our parents," he says. "A lot of our friends don't have both of their parents in their lives, and I think a major contribution to our success thus far in life has come from the fact that we have a father and a mother."
No matter how many miles separate them, the quads say they still celebrate their birthday together every year.
"We have a party and all our friends look forward to it," Victor says. "If you know all four of us, you're automatically getting an invite, so it's a big deal when we have a birthday."
In June 2011, the boys will celebrate their 21st birthday with a big blowout, they say. "We're starting the planning now," Keith says.
"We're talking to our father already [about the party]," Jason says. "Watch out!"