Since 1966, Key Training Center has helped people with developmental disabilities reach their full potential as citizens of Citrus County. Under the leadership of longtime leader, the late Chet Cole, and now Melissa Walker, the center has grown to serve approximately 1,300 people.
July 15 marked the start of the center’s annual fundraiser, the Eight-Day Race for Money. The week is marked by a 180-mile hike from the State Capitol — beginning Monday and ending Saturday, July 23, at the center — which focuses on the daily struggles that developmentally disabled people experience every day.
The center struggles like all nonprofits with the ups and downs of the economy, but has been particularly hard hit by the mandatory minimum wage increase, which requires increases of $1 each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. Fortunately, the state intervened. and included additional funding in this year’s budget for workers who provide direct services to people with mental disabilities. The Key Training Center’s annual budget is approximately $13 million. The Legislative Assembly’s estimated share for the 2022-23 fiscal year will be $5.3 million, an increase of just over 24% over last year’s state contribution.
That still leaves plenty of fundraising to meet the key budget, but staff and volunteers work diligently throughout the year to meet the goal. Run for the Money is the center’s big week for fundraising and raising awareness for the organization. It ends with a community party on Saturday to welcome the runners. This is the 46th year of the race.
In addition to fundraising, the event stimulates community participation. Without it, the government would have to foot the entire bill, and the center would be a shell of what it is today. Thanks to the generosity of the community and the hard work of staff and volunteers, the centre’s clientele thrives.
The event brings the community together for a common purpose – to help those in need; this may be the first time anyone has met the people served by the centre. The Key Training Center has a long history of supporting Citrus County’s developmentally disabled and continued community support is essential to its survival.