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Iolanthe Alpaca Ranch

. . .where alpaca is another word for love.

olanthe 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 was founded in 2009, and 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.

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.

* A child dies from cancer EVERY FOUR HOURS.
* Nearly 16,000 children and teens will be diagnosed with cancer this year in the U.S. alone
* 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)

IOLANTHE (“eye-oh-lawn-they”)

Two of the questions I’m asked the most often are: (1) what does Iolanthe mean? and (2) why am I doing all this?

The name 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 is Gilbert & Sullivan’s fairy opera (about fairies and lawyers). There was just something about the name that sounded so right (my day job is as an intellectual property paralegal). In answer to the second question: My Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma when I was 5 years old, she bravely fought for 11 years and 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. Cancer has taken a lot from me: Iolanthe is my way of doing something positive and giving back.

IOLANTHE’S MISSION

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 the form of a goodybox, free of charge.

My name is Myla and Iolanthe is my dream come true. Iolanthe’s Kids mean the world to me, they are my superheroes, each and every one, and inspire me daily with their bravery and courage.

Welcome to our website.

xo,

Very 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.