“The greatest part of this journey is the people,” said Scott Hite. “So many don’t really know how great they are. People see the sign on my bicycle, look it up on their phones, turn around, and give money for the program.”
The program is the WaitOne crisis hotline, run by Hite to help stop people who are contemplating committing violence with firearms.
“I tried to start the hotline in 2015 and didn’t follow through. Each shooting since then made me ask myself if I should renew my efforts. On May 4, I coincidentally ran into a YouTube video of the Colorado movie theater shooter. (James Holmes shot and killed 12 and injured 70 in a movie theater in 2014.) The shooter called a mental health hotline immediately prior to entering the theater, and there was no answer. Maybe he just needed some guidance, someone to talk to, to convince him to stop. Since that day, I’ve been determined to provide a nationwide hotline for people contemplating and planning violence with firearms.”
After resting in Yankton for a while, he bicycled to Pierre. He is now pedaling to Bismarck, ND, then east to Fargo, ND. From there he plans to head to Lake Itasca, ND, and then will continue following the Mississippi River toward Michigan.
“I’m cycling across the country to raise awareness and fundraising for www.WaitOne.org, a nationwide hotline for people planning violence with firearms. I started May 22 in Michigan,” said Hite. He has with him not only “a satellite tracker that shows my progress in almost real time,” but also three cell phones to alleviate any possible reception problems.
“There was no hotline for people who wanted to commit violence using a firearm. I think it’s important for people who have a gun who want to use it to commit violence to reach out,” Hite said. After hearing about each of the reported shooting incidents over the years, Hite wonders, “Would that person have called?”
“I take a call, and try to get them in contact with someone more local, then follow up to do whatever else is possible,” Hite said. “This has no affiliation, and never will, about gun advocacy. It’s about looking for something that works. There’s got to be something more. People can reach out, and I get them help on a local level.”
Hite stresses that the calls are confidential. He does not try to get too much information, other than to get the caller in touch with someone more local to that caller. Hite is legally responsible, according to information he has gotten from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to report any potential situation that is too specific. Hite is trying to help people and stop situations. “Call me. No one is coming after your guns,” Hite said.
So far, Hite has pedaled 1,710 miles in 50 days. He has talked to countless people, slept in his sleeping bag in people’s backyards, or under the stars near cell towers. He has been getting the word out to people, people who may pass on the word, make posters for their schools, colleges, businesses, and who may otherwise help stop people who may be contemplating doing violence with firearms.