Army soldier raising money to honor friend by betting on himself

WASHINGTON — Lots of people are running in the Marine Corps Marathon next weekend to raise money for a variety of causes. An Army lieutenant from Alexandria, Virginia, is among them, but how much he raises is going to solely depend on how many people he passes.

That’s why 29-year-old Garrett Guinivan is going to start at the back of the pack. When he finally takes off, Guinivan hopes to raise money for a scholarship meant to honor a friend who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year.

“I’m running for my buddy, (Lt.) Clay Cullen,” said Guinivan. “He died on Jan. 20 of this year at the National Training Center at California. His Apache went down.”

Guinivan and Cullen became friends through the ROTC program at Indiana University.

“The thing that sparked my memory was I remember we did quite a few runs to raise money — I believe it was through the Under Armour app — for Wounded Warrior project where we logged miles and they donated so many cents per mile,” said Guinivan. “I figured this would be a good way to honor him and keep his legacy going at Indiana even though he’s now passed. This scholarship basically provides scholarships for future Army officers going through the program at Indiana for years to come. “

Guinivan is about halfway to the $25,000 goal that would make the scholarship carry on in perpetuity. The bet he makes on himself is the motivation to do as well as he can next Sunday.

“I’m hoping to pass about 5,000 people or so,” said Guinivan.

The race has about 30,000 entrants, so he’s hoping to raise a penny or two per person he passes.

Guinivan said it’ll provide “motivation to pass an extra person or two.”

And he wants to make clear that he’s a big guy. Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighing 220 pounds, Guinivan isn’t going to run like a gazelle through the race.

“I’m not a secret, closet marathon runner,” he confessed. “I had a cross-country coach who told me ‘you’re way too big to run marathons, you probably shouldn’t do this.’”

But Guinivan will do it anyway.

And he’ll be carrying the American flag when he runs, something he did when he ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2011.

“That was some pretty good motivation because I was like ‘well I can’t stop and I can’t look bad doing it,’ so I have to keep going and that gave me the motivation,” said Guinivan. “Looking for something here” he added.

You can help donate to his cause through the Indiana University Foundation. 

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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