Imagine not knowing whether you baby will ever walk or talk -- it's a reality for parents of newborn preemies.
But new technology and research provided by the March of Dimes is giving moms and dads across America new hope.
We spoke to one family who says if it weren't for the March of Dimes, they don't know where their little girl would be today. She's been through so much and her journey is nothing short of inspirational.
John and Doris Salvas anxiously awaited the arrival of their perfect little angel Alexandra.
"You have all the expectancies of having a new child and just taking them home and enjoying them and expect those kind of things, and next thing you know, as soon as she's born, she's taken from you quickly."
Born at 26 weeks, their newborn baby suffered a bowel infection and became septic.
"It was really tough, because actually, we were told a couple of times that she wouldn't make it, she wouldn't make it through the night, so all you can do is wait and hope and pray."
From watching their baby on a ventilator to venting their concerns about Allie's future, March of Dimes was there to help every step of the way.
"We really do believe that without the March of Dimes, she may not, you know, be here," Doris said.
"It's such a huge difference," John added.
Still, Allie's life has not been normal.
"Everyday is a struggle, nothing comes easy for you," John sings, in a song he wrote about Alexandra's struggle with cerebral palsy.
"She's lost out on so much of childhood in the physical way, but we try to make it as normal for her," John said.
Allie's parents say she still manages to amaze them.
"She's just always smiling," her father said.
And in their eyes, she is that perfect little angel.
"She just wants to show dad what she can do, and she works great with her therapist."
Her road to recovery is a difficult one, and with every accomplishment, there are challenging steps ahead. However, they have hope for Allie, thanks to the March of Dimes.
Join the Fox 13 Care Force for the March for Babies:
April 27, 2013
Tampa Bay Times Forum
401 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
Walk Distance: 3.2 milesRegistration Time: 7:30 AM Start Time: 8:30 AM
April 27, 2013
Safety Harbor Marina
110 Veterans Memorial Lane
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
Walk Distance: 3 milesRegistration Time: 8:00 AM Start Time: 9:00 AM
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