A GRUELING 180-MILE RUN FOR DISABLED REPRESENTS A SPECIAL MESSAGE
Solitude, sacrifice and suffering. Words novice runners participating in the Key Training Center's annual "Run for the Money" use to describe the week-long 180-mile journey from the steps of the state capitol building in Tallahassee to Lecanto, Florida. Why are these volunteer runners subjecting their bodies to the agony of U.S.19's hard, hot and lonely stretches of asphalt in 90-plus degree heat? Runners help the Key Center tell the story not in words but in a way more meaningful, by showing that each leg-pounding step of this grueling run is small in comparison to the struggles mentally challenged individuals face every day. Their lives can be difficult but their spirits remain undaunted, never complaining and always giving their best, setting an example of how to live our lives.
The run originated in July of 1976 by the Center's Executive Director Chet Cole to bring awareness to the battles and triumphs of the developmentally disabled and to advocate that all people deserve to live their lives with dignity and respect. Averaging 30 miles a day, over six days, the run is equivalent of seven Boston Marathons.
The community compassionately relates to the difficulties of the run and to the stories which are told through each step. From the first run which raised $6,000, to the total contribution now totaling over $3,000.000, people have embraced the Run for the Money through their growing understanding, support and generosity.
Excitement, anxiety and celebration. Words used throughout the run to describe the emotions among the developmentally disabled adults who turn to the Key Center to learn, work, play and live. They understand in their simplistic way that the run is a victory for them celebrating and recognizing their accomplishments. As they do each year, many will wait for the runners to make the final stretch into the campus with cheers, tears and hugs.
Proceeds from the Run for the Money fundraising activities are used to provide over 50 scholarships to individuals who receive no funding from the State of Florida for needed services and to deliver year-round services to over 300 developmentally disabled adults.