Fast traveling man plays the Valley

Guinness world record holder spreads message of hope, plays Encampment and Saratoga

 

August 1, 2018

Mike Armstrong

Scott Helmer plays during his visit to the Valley. Having been on the brink himself, Helmer now contributes to a special needs school and the Wounded Warriors Program.

Scott Helmer said when he first started touring in the U.S. in 2012 one of the early places he rolled through was Riverside and he played at the Bear Trap. He loved the place and was happy to return to play there on Friday.

"Margaret (Weber) is a sweetheart," Helmer said. "She is so welcoming and it is like I am visiting an old friend."

Helmer went further saying, "Bear Trap gets the funnest group."

Besides playing at Bear Trap on Friday, Helmer was in Saratoga playing at Firewater Public House.

Playing music in different towns back-to-back is commonplace for Helmer. On November 28-29, 2016, on Helmer's 'Never Give Up Tour,' the singer set a Guinness world record title "for most live music performances in 24 hours in multiple cities."

"The title is a mouthful," Helmer said laughing. "It doesn't look good on a bumper sticker."

Helmer completed 12 concerts across California and Arizona in the 24-hour time frame and now holds the title. He said that each concert had to be at least 15 minutes and each town had to be 50 miles away; and half of the towns have to be 100,000 or more and the other half have to be 50,000 or more.


"It becomes way more complicated when you throw in all the rules," Helmer said. The funds he raised for this project went to a special needs children school in Salt Lake City.

He has strong empathy for children that struggle with life.

Helmer grew up in Chicago and said he was a sickly child.

"I was a true boy in the bubble and couldn't go outside in the winter," Helmer said. "So my brother, Rich, talked to my mother when I was six about getting me a drum set."

His mother did and Helmer along with his brother, who played guitar, were in bands growing up.

"I was making music from almost since I can remember," Helmer said. "But as I got older, I equated success with being in a job that had you wear suits like my grandfather who was in advertising."

Helmer walked away from music to make his living in the insurance industry. He enjoyed a successful career as an insurance broker and got to the point of opening his own shop in 2006, in fact several. But when financial markets took a tumble in 2008, his world also began to crumble.

"I don't blame the economy for my problems, because it is possible I would have screwed up without the crash," Helmer said.

In what Helmer said was a desperate attempt to save his business, he illegally used monies in his companies trust account to keep the doors open and ride out the storm. It didn't work, because an underwriter in which he had garnered a letter of intent for funds went under during the financial crisis. Helmer ended up losing everything including his family, all his possessions, his career and, most importantly, his self respect as he was indicted for his crimes and faced time in prison.

"I went to myself, how did I get to this point?" Helmer said.

He said it got so bad for him, Helmer found himself alone in his car on a deserted mountain road in northern Arizona with a gun in his mouth, ready to take his own life.

"I had thought about it for a few weeks and I had it set up so all the bills would get paid and I hoped I would see everybody on the other side," Helmer said. "I put the gun in my mouth with the note beside me and I just couldn't do it."

Helmer remarked he silently cried to God for help, "If you help me through this I won't give up and I will deal with the consequences of my actions and use all of this bad stuff to help others and to make a difference so no one else has to go through what I am going through now."

Helmer said he didn't know what he was going to do exactly until a couple years later when he was listening to talk radio and heard a show on the Wounded Warrior Project.

"That's when I said, I know what I am going to do," Helmer said. "I decided I was going to pick up my guitar and raise a million dollars for the project."

Helmer started out not sure how to approach his goal, but he started booking out small places telling them what he was trying to do. He started in January 2012 and in March of the same year, at a Wounded Warrior fundraiser in Midland, Texas, he knew he had chosen the right path.

"At the end of the show, a young man with his leg gone came up to me in a wheelchair and said I had saved his life," Helmer recounted. "He told me he had literally had a shotgun in his mouth ready to pull the trigger when he heard me on the radio talking about my life and why I got committed to the Wounded Warrior project."

After listening to what Helmer had gone through, the young man felt he could face his troubles. The youth had lost his leg from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and when he returned got hooked on painkillers which led to the destruction of his marriage. When he heard Helmer on the radio, he decided to wait to kill himself until he went to the show, and afterwards realized suicide wasn't the answer.

Helmer said, after that show, he wanted to expand his list of charities that included suicide prevention charities.

Since 2012, his shows have helped raise more than two million dollars for good causes across America­-ranging from military veterans and their families, first responders, equine and pet rescues, food banks, non-profit theaters, historic places, suicide prevention and for special needs children and adults.

His work has not gone unnoticed.

"Shortly after meeting the young man, (the rock group) Heart's manager got in contact with me and asked me if I wanted to open for Heart which had me going from saloons to a stadium with 15,000," Helmer said. "Heart turned into Eddie Money, then Three Doors Down, Jeff Bridges, Eric Burdon and The Animals, Big Country and more."

Helmer travels the country to his shows by an RV he said gives him strong autonomy and is cost effective for his touring schedule.

Helmer's mission and message at each participating venue has given him the opportunity to fundraise for causes he had never known before in his old life in the insurance industry.

"I want to be the example to tell people if there is something you love to do, just go do it," Helmer said. "I want to be known as the person who used his talents and first love of music to give back and spread the message that there is always hope and that suicide is not the answer, regardless of your mistakes."

Mike Armstrong

Scott Helmer plays during his visit to the Valley. Having been on the brink himself, Helmer now contributes to a special needs school and the Wounded Warriors Program.

 

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