A man in Fernandina Beach, Florida, had to face a “social media war” just to get his cancer-stricken friend to Tesla — and he did, plus more.
Alan Miller has been friends with Matthew Chan for 18 years.
Needless to say, the two cultivated a friendship that has endured the test of time.
So when Chan was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer just before Christmas, Miller was understandably devastated.
“It’s a diagnosis none of us would want and he got it three days before Christmas,” Miller wrote on Facebook, adding that Chan’s chemotherapy started right on New Year’s Day.
Eager to do “the best thing” for his friend, Miller sought for his wife’s help, who said:
“When people have cancer they go to a dark place and they don’t want you to pretend or ignore them, they just want to know when they’re in that place that you’ll be with them, by their side.”
Miller took these words by heart. The next time he visited Chan, he immediately asked him what he wanted to do.
“In typical Matt fashion, he listed a bunch of boring stuff (watch Blade Runner 2049, relax on the couch after chemo, etc.). I told him that was unacceptable and he had to think bigger.
“He said, ‘Well, if I could meet JB Straubel or Franz von Holzhausen, I’d give you my next born.’”
Sadly, Miller had no idea who those people are, but Chan was happy to explain that they are the men behind Tesla — and Elon Musk.
“Matt is a Tesla superfan and has two cars and an assortment of everything Tesla in and on his house.”
“My next question was who the hell were these guys and he explained that they are basically in charge of running Tesla and designing the cars (Franz) and technical design such as the batteries and power train (JB).”
Miller was curious to know why Chan did not really ask to meet Musk himself. What he learned next proved to be “very insightful.”
“I want 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. Because that’s who I am,” Chan answered.
From there, Miller needed to get the word out. He described the process as a “social media war.”
“I posted Matt’s story on multiple Tesla forums and Facebook groups to anyone who would listen and I learned something.”
“The Tesla community is like no other I’ve ever encountered. Matt had a tremendous response and outpouring of support. People who knew people were emailing and texting and Facebooking.”
At one point, he even had 50 conversations going simultaneously. He also received mysterious calls in the night, with one 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.”
However, Miller did not need to phone Straubel like a creeper. Eventually, he was able to arrange for Chan to get his wish with the help of other people.
Chan’s special day finally arrived. From 8:30AM to 10:00AM, the group spent a “very personal factory tour” with 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 parts. We got 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. Matt was in awe. His sister, Danielle Chan Chai and her husband Billy Chai and I were in awe.”
After the tour, it was time for Chan to meet von Holzhausen. Unfortunately, Straubel had to bail out due to a last-minute change in schedule.
Nonetheless, it all went great. According to Miller, von Holzhausen talked to Chan about his design philosophy and shared that his goal is to “make people fall in love with the car, but they [do] not know why.”
“It was truly a magical moment to see Matt soaking up every word Franz said 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,” Miller said.
Interestingly, the group had a surprise for Chan: Elon Musk.
Miller described the event:
“Elon Musk appeared from his Tesla and walked straight over to me (until I pointed him in the correct direction of Matt). He was very polite and cordial and spoke to Matt for a few minutes. Matt then gave him a gift of wine (thanks Colleen Gerke!) he had for everyone who helped make it happen and we got a few pictures and he disappeared into the large, humming Tesla factory.”
“We were all shellshocked and stood there for a few minutes trying to process what had just happened.”
The next part was quite an adventure. The group had a fun ride around Fremont, with Chan “living on cloud nine.”
We could only wish to have a friend like Miller. Chan must have been the happiest person on earth on that special day!
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Watch Chan and Musk’s meeting: