f this is your first visit here, welcome! If not, welcome back! Iolanthe (“eye-oh-lawn-they”) was founded in 2009. Our little ranch is a peaceful place where kids with cancer and their families can come for a few hours, meet these magical creatures, play a few games and/or do some arts + crafts, and go home with a gift made out of the girls’ fiber, hopefully feeling a bit better. For those who cannot make the visit, we send the ranch to them, in the form of a goodybox.
Iolanthe sits on 1.25 acres up on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. We’re up in the tippy-top most corner of the country in the beautiful Dungeness Valley in a tiny town called Sequim, known for its annual Lavender Weekend each July, and, once upon a time according to Julia Child, the world’s most luscious strawberries can be found here too.
From the moment I saw this photograph by Dennis Kirkland of this beautiful little Peruvian girl with her baby alpaca, I knew without a doubt that alpacas were the animals I wanted to raise: part wookie, part giraffe, part teddybear, with those huge gorgeous eyes, and oof, don’t even get me started about how soft and adorable they are! They’ve turned out to be the most wonderful, inquisitive, loving creatures I’ve ever met, and my life is all the more amazing for being owned by them. Their fiber is hypo-allergenic, softer than cashmere, and makes the most beautiful hats for kids who are battling cancer.
WHY CHILDHOOD CANCER
Childhood Cancer is not rare.
* Childhood Cancer is an EPIDEMIC.
* Another child dies EVERY FOUR HOURS. Every. Four. Hours.
* 15,780 children and teens will be diagnosed with cancer this year in the U.S. alone
* 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer Every Year around the world
* Childhood cancers receive less than 4% of U.S. Federal Funding for Cancer Research
* Yes, you read that number right, LESS THAN 4% ;(
* Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents
* Early diagnosis is difficult because symptoms are often similar to common ailments in kids
* Cancer in childhood occurs regularly and randomly
* Childhood cancer spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region
Source: American Cancer Society Global Cancer Facts & Figures
Cancer has taken a lot from me, Iolanthe is my way of doing something positive and giving back.
Two questions I’m often asked are (1) what does Iolanthe mean, and (2) why an alpaca ranch for kids with cancer? The answers are simple: Iolanthe is a nod to my parents who both loved the opera (my Mom was an aspiring opera singer, pictured above, as Josephine in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore), my Dad loved the opera. Iolanthe was the title character of Gilbert & Sullivan’s fairy opera (about fairies and lawyers), there was just something about the name that just sounded so right. My day job is as a patent paralegal for this wonderful man, who is letting me telecommute so I can follow my dream to help kids battling childhood cancer. In answer to the second question: My Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma when I was 5 years old, bravely fought for 11 years. She died when I was 16. Both of my sisters Joan and Deborah died as a result of cancer as well, so this is a very personal project to me.
The mission for Iolanthe continues to be to serve children diagnosed with cancer in a comfortable, relaxed and enriching environment, and for those kids who cannot make the journey here, we send the ranch to them, in a goodybox. There is absolutely NO CHARGE to the family whatsoever.
My name is Myla and Iolanthe is my dream come true.
Iolanthe’s Kids mean the world to me, they are superheroes, each and every one, and inspire me daily with their bravery and courage.
Welcome to our website.
Special thanks to Dennis Kirkland, who was kind enough to allow me to post his gorgeous photograph. Photo of my Mom on stage from our family albums; the photographer and other actors unknown.