Here is my unique Tesla story.
Ever since Tesla released their Model S, I couldn’t help but want one. It was my dream car, but at the time we couldn’t afford it. I always knew that eventually, I’d get one, but it would take a lot of hard work and saving to happen. The thing that I didn’t realize when I made the goal to eventually own a Model S is that there would be some major obstacles in that plan to make the goal harder to achieve.
In December of 2013 my wife and I found out that we were expecting a child. One week later I was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer (at age 29) that had spread to my lungs and some lymph nodes throughout my body. Two life-changing situations in the matter of one week. That all sounds crazy, right? Well things got crazier.
My son was born August 10th, 2014. He was two months old when my wife noticed him having a seizure. We took him to the emergency room where we were told he was in kidney failure. After some testing we learned that he has a rare disease (1 in 5 million) called primary hyperoxaluria. His liver was over-producing something called oxalate that destroyed his kidneys. Not only were his kidneys destroyed, we learned that oxalate could build up throughout other parts of his body including his eyes and bones. This disease had the potential to leave him with vision loss, fragile bones, heart issues, and so much more. He has been getting dialysis for about three hours a day 3–5 times per week to do the work that his kidneys would normally do.
My son has broken both legs, and was in need of both a liver and kidney transplant. The liver transplant had to be first to ensure the oxalate didn’t destroy a new kidney. When he was six months old, he was listed for a liver transplant. Almost one year later, when he was 18 months old, we received the call that a liver was available for him. He was in the hospital 5 weeks recovering from the transplant, with 4 surgeries needed to finish the transplant.
So where does the Tesla come into play? Well, a few months ago we decided that we needed to accelerate some of our goals in life as I continue treatment for incurable cancer. When life-changing things like cancer and double-transplants enter your life, your perspective changes. My main goal was to pay off our house to ensure my wife and child would always have a place to live. The second goal was to get a Tesla, my dream. Through a lot of hard work, discipline, and a little luck, we were able to accomplish both goals.
When Tesla found out about our story the whole Chicagoland Tesla team was absolutely unbelievable. While we waited to get our car the sales person tried to get us in a Tesla as much as he could. And the delivery specialist updated me almost daily with the status of the car, which kept us unbelievably excited the entire time. Oh, and did I mention they managed to get us bumped up to the front of the queue for production? Yeah, they pulled out all the stops for us, and not because they were looking for publicity, but because they are good people.
Delivery day! They asked that when we pick up the car that we bring our son with. We weren’t quite sure why, but we knew they had something special for him. What was it? The Chicagoland team all pitched in and got him one of the Radio Flyer vehicles that is essentially a mini Tesla complete with a personalized license plate that had his name on it!
They truly went out of their way to make it a special day for us! They did this all for us after the service center had closed to ensure it was a very personal event without any other customers there. To David (our sales person) and Colin (our delivery specialist), thank you for giving us a memory that we will never forget!
As for me, I’ve had over 60 rounds of chemo with a small amount of growth every few months. The cancer is starting to adapt to the chemo though, so we are starting to look at clinical trials.
As for the Tesla, it is an amazing car with all the performance and technology that I could have ever wished for!
To Elon Musk, if you ever consider doing a make-a-wish for adults I’d love to meet you sometime! :)
Finally, I’d like to stress the importance of organ donation. The liver for my son came from a 13-year-old girl who saved the lives of several people because of the selfless decision her parents made when she passed away. We are currently trying to find a living donor for our son’s kidney transplant.
If you want to follow more of our story you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/teamryanstrong/