Mums fight cancer on the beaches
The inaugural Fight on the Beaches Christmas in July Charity Ball last year, devised by Ms Heaton-Armstrong and seven other Northern Beaches mums, made $100,000 for the cancer research organisation. This year, the event, to be held at Miramara Gardens in Terrey Hills on July 17, is expected to make close to double that figure.
"While I was watching my larger-than-life Dad waste away from cancer in front of my eyes, I thought to myself, 'I want to do something positive. Something good has to come out of this. He can't die for no reason'," Ms Heaton-Armstrong explains.
"In the very back of my head, I thought of a charity ball but it was almost too big for me to conceive how it would work.
"Then, about three years later, there was a post from a woman on the Northern Beaches Mums Facebook group saying, 'My mother has just been diagnosed with cancer - what do I do?’. She had about 150 comments and it all started to come together in my mind and I thought 'I'll just put a post up and see if anyone's interested' and seven women were."
The women had no event experience and say they had never done anything like it before, yet in just seven months they managed to create and run an event that raised enough money to fund cancer researcher Dr Christine Napier for 12 months; boasted Channel 7 television presenter Karen Ledbury as emcee; had more than 400 attendees, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Brownyn Bishop and guest speaker Lisa Venables (who spoke about her daughter Zali's miraculous survival of a rare form of cancer); and enough prize donations to have both silent and live auctions, a raffle, and a plethora of mystery 'Christmas' presents available for purchase.
On top of all that, Ms Heaton-Armstrong received a phone call from Warringah mayor Michael Regan five months after the event.
"Mayor Regan called me one morning, and it just so happened to be my Dad's birthday, so I was already pretty emotional. He said, 'I'm ringing to let you know you've won the Warringah Council Community Event of the Year'," she recalls.
"I just started to cry on the phone, which was so embarrassing because I'm not a crier and I told him about Dad and he said 'Now I've got tears in my eyes, you've got me going now'."
This time round, Ms Heaton-Armstrong is hoping to raise enough to fund another researcher for 18 months.
"An extra five months makes a huge difference," she simply states.
And now, due to the success of last years event, the women aren't spending all their time on the phone almost begging for sponsors - they've got local businesses coming to them.
"We're in a much better position than we were this time last year," Ms Heaton-Armstrong says.
Karen Ledbury is full of praise for the organisers and has signed on as an ambassador of the event this year.
"It's amazing what those women achieved in that amount of time," reflects Ms Ledbury.
"It was just a great night to be a part of. Cancer obviously isn't a pleasant subject but the night was about positivity and everyone had an absolute blast."
This year, Georgie Gardner will take on the hosting duties and Vic Lorusso will be auctioneer. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Fightonthebeaches.com or visit the Fight on the Beaches Facebook page. Prize donations are still being welcomed - please email firstname.lastname@example.org.