Twins Turn Tragedy into Triumph

Twins Turn Tragedy into Triumph

MOUNT OLIVE-  Twins Calton and Colby Warren have overcome many obstacles in their young lives including the divorce of their parents, aggression, illness, and death.  Despite the hardships, and maybe even because of them, the twins have become stronger, more confident individuals with a common goal to better themselves.  The first step in their plan is obtaining a college education, and they are pursuing that dream together at the University of Mount Olive.

Calton and Colby were in elementary school when their parents divorced.  It was hard on the entire family and each person had their own way of dealing with the situation.  In the end, the twins were separated.  Colby remained with his mother in Fayetteville while Calton moved in with his dad in Dunn. It was the first time the twins had been apart and it was a difficult transition, but they persevered.

By the time the boys reached high school, the twins had adjusted to life apart.  Then illness struck.  Colby was diagnosed with scoliosis.

“I had two major curves in my back,” Colby said.  “My top curve curved at 50 degrees and so did my bottom curve. I later had spinal fusion surgery, and now I have two and a half metal rods added to my spine.”

Although the scoliosis limited Colby’s mobility, he made the best of his situation and involved himself in numerous activities. He joined clubs such as the National Technical Honor Society, FFA, CTE Honors Society, Foreign Language League, Student Government Association, and he served on the Junior Fair Board and as a freshmen mentor.

Calton on the other hand immersed himself in sports. He joined the football team and played as a receiver, tight end, defensive end, and right guard and joined the basketball team as a small forward and power forward. During his senior year, Calton succeeded athletically and became an all-conference and tri-county award winner in football.

Then on July 19, 2012, disaster struck once again for the Warren family, when Colby and Calton’s father passed away during their junior year of high school.

“When our dad died, I needed Colby more than ever,” Calton said. “People don’t understand that twins are more than just brothers.  My brother understood my pain and was the support I needed to overcome the heartbreak of losing our father.  As bad as the situation was, it brought our entire family closer together. It gave Colby and me the push to become closer than ever, and our family encouraged one another to focus on the positives and to keep pursuing our goals of finishing high school and going to college.”

The twins continued their senior year of high school at their separate schools and decided to apply to college together in the fall of 2013.  As the boys applied to colleges, they decided to honor their dad’s memory by enrolling at his alma mater – the University of Mount Olive.  They began their freshmen year in the fall of 2014, and after five years apart, they are once again sharing a room; this time in Grantham Residence Hall.

“It’s almost as if everything just fell right back into place. I’m the neat freak and have to make sure that everything is cleaned just right, which drives Calton a little crazy. I even have to make his bed sometimes,” Colby said with a smile.  “We have sibling arguments, but we instantly forgive each other. I couldn’t imagine living with anyone else and sharing my college experience with anyone else. ‘Womb-mates to roommates’ is our motto.”

On campus, the twins eat their meal together and enjoy participating in intramural sports with their friends. As they meet new faces around campus, many peers fail to realize that the brothers are in fact twins. “At first most people don’t even realize we are twins. Since we aren’t identical, people on campus just think we are brothers,” said Calton.

When asked to describe one another, Calton smiled and said, “Colby is smart, but I like to prove him wrong. He is obsessed with cleaning, and I don’t mind a little mess. Regardless, he is the best friend that I could ever have. He’s one of the most caring people I know and is always there for me.”

Colby responded, “Calton always has to be right. He will prove me wrong at any chance! However, we share the same sense of humor, and he can always crack a good joke to make me laugh. We definitely balance each other out since I am more of the go-getter, and Calton is more of the funny class-clown.”

So far, their freshman year has been full of excitement. The twins have adjusted to college living, enjoyed their classes, and committed to journeying to Costa Rica in May. The Student Affairs organized trip is an exciting opportunity for the twins to travel together with a group of their fellow UMO classmates.

“Our freshman year is going better than we both expected,” noted Colby. “I have made lots of friends and I have been involved in things that I never expected to find myself doing with my scoliosis condition. The campus has a lot to offer, and I like playing racquetball and playing beach volleyball with Calton. We are beyond excited to go to Costa Rica in May.  It will be the first time Calton and I have ever been out of the country!”

In the classroom, Calton is majoring in criminal justice in hopes of obtaining a career that allows him to move beyond a desk and use his energy to help the community. Colby is majoring in agriculture business to pursue a passion he developed in FFA.

When reflecting on their journey, Colby said, “Through all of the struggles and tragedies that we have experienced, I am grateful that I have Calton by my side for support and comfort. Together we have been able to overcome a great deal and we constantly push one another to reach all of our goals in life. We are lucky to have come from such a supportive family that has pushed us to be the best we can be every day.”

Calton added, “Our dad would be incredibly proud of us and our decision to come here. College was always something he took very seriously and set money aside for us.  Our graduation will be a fitting tribute to him, and I am sure he will be smiling down on us.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit

Pictured (L-R): Colby and Calton Warren