JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 6, 2018 – When a friend of 22 years is diagnosed with cancer, how do you help? This question was posed to Coastal Spine and Pain Center’s Dr. Alan Miller when his lifelong friend Matthew Chan received news of his stage-four colon cancer diagnosis three days before Christmas.
With chemotherapy treatment beginning in the New Year, Dr. Miller wanted to do something to benefit his friend. His wife, Carly Miller, a psychiatrist with Amelia Psychiatry, gave him advice.
“When people have cancer they go to a dark place and they don’t want you to pretend or ignore them,” said Carly Miller. “They just want to know when they’re in that place that you’ll be with them, by their side.”
With that guidance, Dr. Miller asked Chan what they could do together, he offered up humble suggestions to which Dr. Miller prodded his friend for more.
“Matt said ‘well, if I could meet JB Straubel or Franz von Holzhausen, I’d give you my next born’,” said Dr. Miller. Straubel and von Holzhausen are design leaders at Tesla automobiles.
The more visible face of Tesla is Elon Musk, but Chan wanted to meet the “man behind the man – the one who is told to get the job done and has to figure out how to do it.”
Chan is a Tesla superfan, owning two cars and an assortment of everything Tesla in and on his house.
From that suggestion, Dr. Miller began a social media campaign. Dr. Miller posted Matt’s story on multiple Tesla forums and Facebook groups to anyone who would listen.
“The Tesla community is like no other I’ve ever encountered,” said Dr. Miller. “Matt had a tremendous response and outpouring of support. People who knew people were emailing, texting and facebooking. At one time, I had about 50 separate conversations going and was even getting cryptic calls in the middle of the night with anonymous people calling saying “I can’t tell you who I am, but here is JB Straubel’s cell phone – only use it if you can’t find any other way.””
With coordination from multiple people, Chan’s wish was able to come true. He experienced the day as follows:
In the early morning, Chan and some select friends and family were given a personal factory tour by Adam, Tesla’s VIP tour guide.
“We went to places in the factory not taken on normal tours and Matt got to touch and feel the automobile parts,” said Dr. Miller. “We were able to see the bodies being mated to cars, the robots building and welding the cars. We saw the batteries being raised into the underbelly of the car and met the team members on the production line. The people who built Matt’s cars.”
Later that morning there was a meeting with Franz von Holzhausen. Von Holzhausen spent an hour talking with Chan about his design philosophy of all the cars, speaking about how he went from paper to computer to reality of his designs and how his goal is to “make people fall in love with the car, but they don’t know why [they’re in love].” He explained details of designing the feel and flow of the interior and why where you charge [the car] there is no traditional gas cap. Von Holzhausen talked about how the car made him feel when he saw it as well as the team philosophy that’s alive at Tesla.
“It was truly a magical moment to see Matt soaking up every word Franz said,” said Dr. Miller. “And as a non-Tesla owner/geek I just felt like going out and buying one because you could hear and feel that Franz and his team had put every fiber of their creative beings into designing and building this car and they really wanted it to be not just good, but the best.”
Then von Holzhausen had a surprise for Chan – a one-on- one test drive with him. The rest of the group would follow in an identical car but it would give Chan time to test drive the car with his idol, alone.
As the crew was piling into their cards, a highly-optioned Tesla Model S glided to a stop in front of them. It was none-other than Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. Musk took the time to talk to the group and to Chan and take photos.
After the ride, von Holzhausen signed Chan’s Tesla. The day, coordinated by Dr. Miller and friends of Chan as well as strangers, was complete and his community left “inspired”.
CNN and other media outlets have featured this story. You can read more at:
● money.cnn.com/2018/01/26/technology/elon-musk- tesla-matthew- chan/
●cnbc.com/2018/01/26/tesla-superfan- with-cancer- gets-surprise- visit-from- elon-musk.html