The Superhero Project: Making Magical Connections through Cameras and Caring

Baby in arms and balloons in tow, Kelly Gallagher waved goodbye to the nurses at Holy Redeemer Hospital in suburban Philadelphia in 2008, buckled her daughter, Addyson (now 15), into her car seat and headed home for a happy life.  Two years later, she and her husband, Justin, repeated the process, welcoming son Ryan (now 14). But in the summer of 2014, 32 weeks into her pregnancy with twin sons, Gallagher ran into complications, delivering Connor (2 lbs., 11 oz.) and Curran (5 lbs., 1 oz.) prematurely. She was ill-prepared for the extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that her twins required and equally ill-equipped to deal with the inevitable separation that the stay dictated.

“The day I had to leave the hospital without my babies was unlike anything I had ever experienced,” said Gallagher a 20-year elementary teaching veteran of the Upper Moreland School District and the current K-12 supervisor of curriculum and instruction, who earned her master’s degree in special education from Holy Family in 2006. “I was inconsolable.  It was so scary to see the tubes and the wires, and I had to muster up the courage to not just be strong for my other two children, but to be strong enough to trust and value the healthcare system.  As a mom, it felt so unnatural to not have access to my children and to trust my babies with strangers. I don’t think I would have made it through some of those critical weeks without the nurses who were truly receptive to understanding the pain that I was in and who went and beyond to help me through the process.”

It was from this angst that The Superhero Project Inc, Gallagher’s 501(c) (3) non-profit, was born.   The charity will be the beneficiary of proceeds from the All-Star Labor Classic hosted by the Philadelphia’s Building and Construction Trades Council at Holy Family University on Sunday, April 14.

While she was researching innovative NICU technology, a company called Angel Eye popped out of the search engine, and Gallagher was sold. Angel Eye technology allows cameras to be placed in NICUs and gives families 24/7 access to see the baby at their bedside and to receive messages from hospital staff, when in-person visits are not possible or feasible. Gallagher began the non-profit application process, worked through a lot of red tape and logistics, everything from HIPA regulations to legal consultations, and has now placed Angel Eye cameras in 21 hospitals, across eight states to support the one-in-10 families who struggle through a premature birth.  Her grassroot beef-and-beer and bingo fundraisers have swelled to annual galas that bring in six figures worth of funding dollars for the project.

The Superhero Project also supports a number of family-care events, including one that is especially close to Gallagher’s heart – the NICU Graduation day – when the organization provides the proper sendoff, complete with banners, superhero swag and a graduation cap for the baby on the day of their hospital discharge. 

"The Superhero Project has taught me about leadership and empathy, about trusting other people and building on relationships, and the power of collaboration,” Gallagher said.  “For me, Holy Family was a big part of my first step into leadership. It was the first step I took in knowing I wanted to do more. Every time I walk into a NICU and smell the soap and hear the beeps, it brings me back to my why.  At the end of the day, I think that helping other people is the best gift that I can give to my own kids. How you choose to prioritize your time and who you choose to prioritize it for, speaks volumes. I will always find time for helping needy families because I went through it. Connecting with other humans is really the magic of life.”

To learn more about The Superhero Project, please visit



Jan Giel