VB Gives Back


Penny's Flight Foundation

The Butterfly Effect

Our VB Gives Back partner, Penny's Flight, is more than just a nonprofit dedicated to funding research for neurofibromatosis (NF). Since launching in late 2022, it's grown into a beautiful movement of purposeful and joyful living. And it all goes back to its namesake, Penny Doerge, who radiated positivity despite her diagnosis and countless surgeries. "Our logo is the butterfly, which is so perfect for Penny because it represents an inextinguishable soul always drawn to the light," says her mom Kate, who co-founded the organization with her husband, Chad, after Penny passed away. "Now we’re taking on her legacy and spreading its wings so her story can continue to inspire others."

Here, meet the people who are taking up the cause and sharing her message in their own individual way. One did it through a fashion show; another, through jiu-jitsu rolls. And yet another is spreading awareness with an ocean rowboat emblazoned with Penny's butterfly. The vessel's name? Courageous. 


Owner of
Rise Up BJJ

How have you been "spreading wings" for Penny's Flight?
Earlier this month we hosted an event, Roll for a Cure, to raise awareness and funds for Penny's Flight and NF research. We gathered jiu-jitsu practitioners together to do 10-by-10-minute rounds—high endurance sparring sessions; very intimidating for most people—to show our support in a small way.

Why is this cause important to you?
I have been hosting Roll for a Cure for four years. My best friend Mariel had NF1 and she passed away two months before the first event, so getting the word out is very near and dear to my heart.

Joanie Chamberland, wearing a Penny's Flight rash guard


How have you been "spreading wings" for Penny's Flight?
Last year, I co-hosted a painting party in honor of Penny. Then in the fall, I was thinking of more ways I could continue to spread awareness. I decided to feature Penny’s Flight for a documentary project. Spreading Wings won an Audience Choice Award at my school and, more recently, won Most Outstanding Documentary at a local festival. It has been so inspiring and rewarding to see how this story has affected people. I cannot wait to keep spreading wings through this film!

Why is this cause important to you?
Penny’s Flight is such a wonderful and motivating organization; it makes you feel part of a community. And although I never met Penny, knowing that she was my age and lived her life with so much bravery, happiness, and positivity is beyond inspiring to me. She has taught me to have passion and joy in everything I am lucky enough to experience.

A behind-the-scenes take with Daphne Fallon, right, with Kate Doerge

Oarsome Expedition International Ocean Rower

How have you been "spreading wings" for Penny's Flight?
I’m part of a team of 10 rowers who row for a cause. In 2023, I rowed for the Children’s Tumor Foundation—my dear friend Michele Holbrook is an ambassador—and in learning about NF, I came across Penny’s Flight. I was so personally moved by Penny’s story, how she lived through a horrific genetic disorder and never skipped a beat, that I reached out to Kate and Chad and asked them for permission to put their butterfly logo on the boat before I towed off this year. We’re rowing a five-leg journey over the next three years—across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Penny’s Flight is now one of the central charities we are supporting.

Why is this cause important to you?
One thing I’ve noticed in my journey is that NF is not widely known or supported in many other countries. We’re hoping that we can take Penny’s mission, her positivity, and passion for life, and move the message around the world. We’re rowing with love and with purpose.

Paul Lore's boat, Courageous, with the Penny's Flight logo


How have you been "spreading wings" for Penny's Flight?
The first event that I hosted was Paintings for Penny, which was an art class hosted by artist Richard Dupont. He explored watercolors with a group of roughly 60 children and recreated Penny’s paintings. This event was extra special because it not only raised awareness about the foundation and Penny’s story, but it highlighted one of her great passions!
I have also started a Penny’s Flight club at my school. We hold meetings to spread awareness, hosted a bake sale, and even had the JV hockey team wear Penny’s Flight stickers on their helmets. We’re now organizing a Pedals for Penny SoulCycle class in June!

Why is this cause important to you?
Penny was a good childhood friend of mine. My family used to spend one month each summer in Locust Valley, New York, where Penny lived. I got to know her through camps and local swim competitions. Spending time with her was such a treat and makes spreading her wings even more special for me.

Clockwise from top left: Penny Doerge and Emily Anderson, a bake sale benefitting Penny's Flight, and the Paintings for Penny session


How have you been "spreading wings" for Penny's Flight?
I created the first-ever fashion show at my school last year—it’s now an annual event—and donated the money we raised to Penny’s Flight. It combined my love of fashion, which I shared with Penny, and my role as class president (I’m responsible for organizing fundraisers for prom and charity). Penny did not get a chance to experience high school and prom, so I felt motivated to honor her legacy and the beautiful life she lived with this event.

Why is this cause important to you?
Penny was best friends with one of my close friends, Lia Koundourakis. Penny had the sweetest soul, and I could easily see why Lia loved her so dearly. She left behind a powerful legacy that has spread worldwide in just over a year. Knowing the passion and drive that this foundation has, I know that Penny’s Flight will find a cure for NF, and her spirit will continue to inspire and bring hope to countless individuals and families affected by this disease.

Olivia Gallo, wearing her own design, at the 2024 fashion show

From now to the end of June, we will donate a portion of proceeds from every single veronicabeard.com/en-jo order to Penny's Flight Foundation. Keep an eye on the VB Edit to see more of the inspiring ways people are "spreading wings" with Penny's Flight--and learn how you can get involved.