For Darice and Justin Goetz, it's hard to put into words what the March of Dimes means to them.
But when looking at their healthy 18-month-old daughter, Eliza, it's all too clear.
Medicines and procedures developed by March of Dimes research saved Eliza's life.
The family is the Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes' Jefferson City Walk for Babies at 12:30 p.m. April 27 at Memorial Park.
They will share their story at the event.
Eliza was born eight weeks early and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Columbia's Women's and Children's Hospital for nearly a month. She required oxygen and a feeding tube, and needed to grow and develop a bit before she was able to go home with her parents.
March of Dimes has invested $23 million in the last year to fund research to help 4 million babies like Eliza. The research is to defeat premature birth and other infant health problems.
The $23 million was raised at events like Jefferson City's Walk for Babies.
Anne Clouse, director of March of Dimes' Greater Missouri Chapter's Central Division, said last year's walk raised nearly $130,000.
Clouse expects this year's April 27 event to top last year's, with a turnout of more than 400 people.
"There will be a kids' zone, carnival games and a bounce house for kids," Clouse said. "Walgreens will also be there to take photos of each family team."
Various community mascots, such as Scholastic's Clifford, will also be at the event.
"It's always family-friendly, and we're always looking to do more activities," Clouse said.
Registration for the event begins at 12:30 p.m., with the walk at 1:30 p.m.
Jennifer Schnieders is the chairwoman of this year's event, and her family was last year's Ambassador Family.
Her son Tucker was also born eight weeks early and is now a healthy 3-year-old.
One reason she's looking forward to Jefferson City's Walk for Babies is the camaraderie.
"It's always so moving to see these families come together and share their stories," she said.