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Newly Named Penny Doerge Adaptive Academy at HSS to Offer More Trips, Activities to Pediatric Patients

The Lerner Children’s Pavilion at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is pleased to announce the expansion and renaming of the Adaptive Sports Academy to honor the memory of an extraordinary patient whose courageous spirit, kind heart and positive outlook touched all who knew her.

The newly named Penny Doerge Adaptive Academy (PDAA) honors the memory of HSS patient Penny Doerge and will continue to offer trips and recreational and creative activities such as rock climbing, surfing, skiing, dancing and other exciting adventures to pediatric patients at no cost, as it has for the past decade. The activities aim to build self-confidence, encourage independence, reinforce therapy goals and increase physical activity, creativity and mobility. Penny, a longtime patient of Roger Widmann, MD, chief of Pediatric Orthopedics at HSS, embodied the spirit of the program for kids and teens with a range of disabilities.

“Penny was an independent spirit who had a force of personality and a drive to do everything that her peers and her brothers would and could do,” Dr. Widmann said. “She also had an incredible artistic sense and style that defined her from early on. We miss her very much.”

The Penny Doerge Adaptive Academy focuses on three themes that are central to how Penny lived her life: motion, expression and inclusion, explained Kate Doerge, Penny’s mother and member of the HSS Board of Trustees, Pediatric Council, and Co-Chair of the HSS Board of Advisors. “Her resiliency, positivity and courageousness are all qualities that the Academy works to promote in its participants,” she said.

Penny was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis as an infant but never let her diagnosis hold her back. She lived a life full of purpose, passion and joy, according to HSS staff who knew her.

The renaming of the Academy will be celebrated at the 2023 Hospital for Special Surgery Benefit for Pediatrics on November 8. The event, which will take place at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, raises funds for the Lerner Children’s Pavilion at HSS, which offers the Academy’s programs. Additional support will enable the Academy to expand its offerings to all HSS patients ranging in age from 3 to 22.  

The Academy organizes trips and recreational experiences to enable young patients with cerebral palsy or another physical condition affecting movement, muscle control or balance to participate in athletic or recreational activities they may have never dreamed possible. Many of the participants have had surgery at HSS. Adaptive activities are geared toward people with differing abilities. Sometimes rules and equipment are modified to meet the needs of participants.

“Patients who participate in the Academy gain greater confidence in their physical capabilities, and they carry that with them to school and beyond,” said Lisa Ipp, MD, chief of Pediatric Medicine at HSS and co-executive director of the Academy. “It has become a very special part of HSS, bringing comfort, excitement and joy to our youngest patients.”  

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 14th consecutive year), No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2023-2024), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2023-2024). In a survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics for a fourth consecutive year (2023). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection and complication rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. In addition, more than 200 HSS clinical investigators are working to improve patient outcomes through better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat orthopedic, rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 165 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu.