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Gardnerville man loves ham radio

by Christina Nelson

Being stuck at home all day, every day is enough to drive anyone crazy.

“For the fun of it, that’s why I was out there. To get out of the house,” said Kerry McDole, a Gardnerville resident who suffers from multiple sclerosis. “I was there to provide emergency communications and make sure the rider and the horse are OK.”

Two weeks ago, McDole, a member of the Sierra Intermountain Emergency Radio Association, followed one of the Pony Express riders 3-1/2 miles from the Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch to Genoa in his motorized wheelchair.

“This was just an unusual situation with Kerry,” said George Uebele, a member of the radio association. “He was assigned to one little area there with his wheelchair. It was really quite interesting.”

Six years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, McDole had to give up his job.

He said he had symptoms years before his diagnosis in 1990. He said he felt like he was drunk when he walked and at times could not see people who were standing right in front of him.

“I was going to let it rest, maybe my eyes were strained,” said McDole, a former mechanical engineer at Bently Nevada Corp.

“I don’t like to dwell on it or cry about it.”

Amateur radio is a family activity at the McDole household. McDole’s wife, Sue, and son, Thoren, are both technician class certified radio operators.

He has talked to people from Japan, East Malaysia and Russia, as well as across the United States on his radio.

Both McDole and Uebele explained the purpose of the club is being ready for emergency situations and helping out when communication systems are not functioning.

The association, also refered to as Ham Radio, has some interesting stories to tell about the Pony Express Re-ride. This year, a rider got lost between Diamond Valley and Garden Pass near Eureka because it was so dark the horse and rider could not find the way to their next destination.