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Special operations soldier gears up for ride across America

Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 24, 2016

A special operations soldier is gearing up for a motorcycle ride across America in two days.

Cris Valley, kicked off his journey at Petco Park on Wednesday.

Valley said he was not nervous to throw the ceremonial first pitch.

He was quick to flash his smile, flex his muscles and sweet talk the ladies.

"I think it's lighter than a grenade, so I should be able to throw it over… what is it 60 feet?" he joked. "I'm just grateful to be sitting here talking to a beautiful blonde woman … I get to throw a baseball. I'm just thankful."

He has friends who keep him upbeat, even during the most trying times on deployment.

"Everybody's too hot or too cold and not having fun, [and] you'd look at Ryan, and he'd be smiling and laughing," Valley explained.

It has been a year since he has talked to Ryan Savard. Valley cannot shake the terrifying moments they shared in Afghanistan in 2012.

"Ryan ran toward the sound of gunfire without hesitation," Valley said.

Savard eliminated an enemy.

"There were two other guys with machine guns about three feet away," he added.

They filled Savard's body with six bullets.

"Through his arm into his chest, between his nipple and his armpit, in each one of his hips, in his kneecap and in his hand," he explained. 

Valley took them out and ran to Savard's rescue.

"I was fortunate enough to help our medic work on Ryan," he said. "The last thing I said to Ryan was, 'Hey love you bro and hope to see you soon.'"

It is why he started the Coast X Coast Foundation. Valley is one of a dozen people riding across the country in hopes of raising $45,000 to help wounded soldiers with post-war problems like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and depression. 

"My nerves are definitely peaked for that stop," he said. "I just feel like there's a lot of pressure to honor them and to say hi to him."

That is because Savard cannot say hi back.

The ride ends on September 11 at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. 

You can learn more about it here: http://www.coastxcoast.org/