Gallen helping kids dream big
Nitro Jam Media
Nov 22, 2011
Sometimes it is easy to forget just how blessed we truly are.
For most people, mundane tasks and activities can become a major source of frustration. From that guy driving a tad too slow on the freeway to an annoying co-worker, a home improvement gone wrong or that restaurant that just can’t seem to get your order right, all are trivial in the big picture.
To some, just getting out of bed can be the major accomplishment for the day. To some, having another day is life’s biggest blessing. And to some just having a home and, most importantly a bedroom, are what matter most.
Enter the Designing 4 Hope Foundation.
Created earlier this year in Pennsylvania, the Designing 4 Hope group was created with one goal in mind – making life better for critically ill children. Started by Lori McHale, an interior designer by trade and owner of Designing 4 You in Limerick, Pa., McHale has been inspired to help critically ill children by giving them something to help them rest a bit easier – the bedroom of their dreams.
McHale formed the nonprofit in May after re-designing her own daughters’ room and watching her light up with delight. Soon after seeing what a dream room can mean to young children, McHale founded the organization to help children have a special place to call their own where the outside distractions of the world melt away in a sea of pirate flags, spaceships and castles.
Since the formation of Designing 4 Hope earlier this year, several people and business have lent a helping hand to get the project on its feet. Among them is IHRA Prostalgia℠ Nitro Funny Car driver Peter Gallen and his family.
Having five children of his own including his youngest son, 2-year old Ayden, the story of an organization creating better lives for children, some with limited time left on this earth, tugged at the heart of the 55-year old Broomall, Pa. native and led him to get involved in any way possible.
“This charity means a lot to my wife Ashbey and I. My children are my life and I would do anything for them and to have a way to help other children is very rewarding,” Gallen said. “Designing 4 Hope is involved in building bedrooms for critically ill children and they are growing by leaps and bounds. We are happy to help.”
Already this year the organization has built bedrooms for multiple children and has expanded well beyond its humble beginnings in eastern Pennsylvania. From creating a spaceship-themed room for a boy with an aggressive form of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid to helping another boy, a four-year-old diagnosed with leukemia, who wanted a Spider Man room and even creating a princess-themed room for the boy’s twin sister, Designing 4 Hope helped make life just a bit better for both children.
The group’s latest project will be for a young girl born four months early. Weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces and 11 inches long at birth, the young girl has suffered from bi-lateral brain bleeds since birth and other complications. Now 5-years-old, Designing 4 Hope will be building her a purple Tinkerbell-themed room to come home to.
“Some of these children have lived well beyond their years. They have suffered and spent a lot of time in hospitals. Designing 4 Hope gives them a little piece of normal to their life,” Gallen said. “It gives them a chance to come home to a room that is theirs. A place to play and dream and forget about life outside of those walls. It gives them a chance to be kids again.”
As word spreads of the good works of Designing 4 Hope, so does the list of people hoping to give their children a piece of normalcy in their day. And that is where people like Gallen come in. Since taking on the task of helping the charity earlier this year, Pete and his wife Ashbey have leant a helping hand wherever needed.
In addition to contributing monetarily, the Gallen’s mention the charity in team interviews, carry literature on Designing 4 Hope in their pit and even work on fundraising projects. Earlier this year at the Northern Nitro Jam at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan, Gallen even debuted a brand new Designing 4 Hope sticker on the side of his beautiful purple and gold “Poverty Sticken” 1976 Vega Funny Car.
That same weekend Gallen blasted to the quickest pass in nostalgia funny car history and wrapped up his first career IHRA championship, sweeping the weekend with two big wins.
“It was a big weekend for us and we were proud to be carrying that sticker on the car through it all,” Gallen said. “We have big plans next year to continue our involvement and hopefully bring awareness to this great organization.
“We are blessed to get to travel the country and go racing. Racing is my passion and I love every minute of it and to be able to use the sport to help create a better life for a child is what it is all about.”
Gallen travels the country with the IHRA Nitro Jam circuit and other various racing groups throughout the year with his wife Ashbey and youngest son Ayden. Creating a true family atmosphere at each of the races, Ashbey is known for her great meals for the team and Ayden is honorary crew chief, always being seen with a wrench – nearly half his size – in his hand or getting behind the wheel, car noises and all.
Over the past two years Gallen has dominated the Nitro Jam series, winning 15 races over the past two seasons with a championship in 2011 and a runner-up finish the year prior. His winning ways have helped shine a spotlight on the team and through that spotlight Gallen hopes he can continue to make a difference both on and off the track.
“We always try to give back. We are blessed and we like to give back when we can,” Gallen said. “This is one of the best organizations I have been a part of. The people that are building these things are donating their time and everything is just about the kids. It is a great cause.”
For more information on Designing 4 Hope, visit their website at