Ham Radio Club In Hot Water After “Honest Mistake”
By WBØRUR, on the scene
BEAVER DAM, Wisconsin — A local group of amateur radio operators will not be invited back to next year’s fundraiser for the local heart association.
The Dial Spinners, a ham radio club based in rural Catoosa County, volunteered for event communications during last week’s “Walk It, Run It or Bike It” fundraiser. (Participants gather pledges per mile from donors and may walk, run or bike the course.) Shortly after the 5K event started, things took a bad turn – literally.
“Alexander Feldman* had the course map and that was probably our first mistake,” says club president Thomas O’Happerstam, a radio amateur veteran. “He was responsible for guiding the lead car and the initial participants in the right direction.”
While the group of 15 volunteers manning course checkpoints were chatting on a local repeater about lunch plans and the “code /no code” controversy, Feldman inadvertently guided everyone onto the wrong street. And then another. And then another. And then another.
“When it was all said and done,” adds event organizer Jane Brookhaven, “our 5k event turned into something closer to 20k. People were dropping out like flies and we had to call in extra vehicles to pick up the stranded walkers, runners and bicyclists. It wasn’t pretty. It even made the local Beaver Free Press newspaper.”
For his part, Feldman says he’s not exactly sure what happened…but has an idea.
“I think I was holding the map upside down,” says Feldman who has a history of navigation mistakes. In 2006, Feldman intended to drive a group of hams to the “Big Badger Hamfest” in Madison, but ended up in Racine. He also completely missed Field Day one year because he “just couldn’t find the damn thing.”
Brookhaven says there may be a silver lining to the embarrassing incident, though.
“Because of Mr. Feldman’s course and our pledges per mile –– we raised a lot more money than usual!”
*Editor’s Note: Feldman’s grandfather portrayed himself as the famous “Wrong Way Feldman,” who was featured in TWO Gilligan’s Island episodes.