This Saturday, 16 of Roxy Gamlin’s friends will join her at her pink-themed birthday party. There will be pink lolly bags, balloons, decorations, games. But unlike most six-year-old’s parties, there won’t be any presents to open. No wrapping paper to tear, or toy to play with then tossed aside.
Instead of gifts, the Noosa girl has asked that her friends’ families donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s GoPink fundraiser.
This charitable act has become somewhat of a tradition in the Gamlin household. It started five years ago after baby Roxy had been in and out of hospital with asthma. Having seen the plight of unwell children, her mother made a suggestion to her eldest daughter Kate, then four, that they ask friends to donate to the Starlight Children’s Foundation for her birthday.
“It was actually her decision in the end,” the 41-year-old told Mamamia. “Kate said, ‘I want to help sick kids. I’ve got lots of toys, and I think we should help the sick kids.’
“We’ve just done it ever since.”
The Gamlins' choice of this year's charity is also close to home. Angela's sister - the girls' aunt - was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
"To try and explain that to four-year-old [is difficult]. We said, 'Aunty Cassie's boobies made her sick and she has to have special medicine, and that medicine will make her hair fall out. But it will grow back."
Every day this year another 50 men and women will receive that same diagnosis. Three thousand will lose their lives. It's that number the NBCF's GoPink campaign hopes to quash via contributions to crucial research into the disease.
Their goal: zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
Cassie's tumour was aggressive (grade three) but was caught early, and she is now in remission. When she learned of her niece's birthday fundraiser, Angela said, Cassie became quite emotional.
"She's so proud of my kids and proud of what we're doing," Angela said. "I suppose ultimately it's not just going to benefit her, but other women as well."
So far the Gamlins have raised over $1300 ahead of Roxy's birthday party, including several donations from friends. ("Happy Birthday Roxy, thank you for inviting me," one reads. "I will see you at your party.")
While Roxy will still have a few gifts to open from her parents and relatives on her birthday, party time now represents something else in their household; time to celebrate with friends and family.
"I just want my girls to know that really a birthday party is not all about the presents," Angela said.
"It's not just about receiving - it's about giving, too. And you know, if you're able to help somebody else then you should do it."
Angela is happy for other parents to steal the idea. In fact, she welcomes it.
"You know all of the money, all of the time, parents spend going to the shops trying to buy the perfect gift," she said, "why not avoid all of that and help somebody else at the same time?"
To donate to Roxy's GoPink Fundraiser visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website.