Kathie Lee Gifford Brings Crowd to Tears With Touching Speech About Hoda Kotb

See the Today co-host deliver an emotional speech about her dear friend

By Jess Cohen Oct 17, 2017 4:56 PMTags

Kathie Lee Gifford had the audience reaching for tissues at the American Cancer Society's Mother of the Year luncheon.

The co-anchor of Today's fourth hour was there to introduce her co-host and friend Hoda Kotb, who was diagnosed with breast cancer just over 10 years ago. Now a decade later, Kotb is a survivor and Gifford took the stage to talk about her dear friend and the journey they've shared together.

"I'm here today to introduce my amazing friend and co-host, but I don't even think of her that way," Gifford began her speech. "Hoda Kotb is my Egyptian sun goddess. The only thing bigger than her smile is her heart."

Today's Kathie Lee Gifford Reveals When She Really Started "Falling in Love" With Hoda Kotb
MediaPunch / BACKGRID

Gifford continued, "You have to be very careful around Hoda, because she's the most contagious human being on the planet, she will infect you, she will make you happy, she will make you start singing really crappy songs…that's what she does. She can't help it she just shows up and the room changes. When I signed to come back to television almost 10 years ago I didn't want to, I thought I'd done the best 15 years of television I'd ever done with a certain little guy named Regis Philbin and I didn't wanna come back."

She then told a story of how she went to lunch with Kotb and they became instant friends.

"I decided to do it for one year, but something happens when you're around Hoda Kotb, you not only get infected, then you fall in love." Gifford teared up as she told the audience, "I fell absolutely, madly in love with this life force called Hoda. Who just made me a better person."

Hoda Kotb's Journey to Motherhood: Overcoming Breast Cancer and Heartache on the Way to Happiness
Annie Watt

Gifford then shared that her only regret is that she didn't meet Kotb earlier. "So that I could've been her friend when she got that diagnosis that she had cancer," Gifford said. "Her friend Jen is here today and she was there for her. I'm sure that Joel [Schiffman] her partner feels the same way. We didn't get to share that with her. I would've been by her bedside. I would've kept her baby for her...although that baby eats an awful lot."

She then ended by telling the audience, "It is my great honor and privileged to give this to one of my dearest, dearest friends who is one of the finest human beings I've ever met in my life. I adore you Hoda...Hoda Kotb."

To make a donation in honor of Kotb or in honor of a loved one, you can visit ACSMothersOfTheYear.org. The money raised goes to cancer research and patient service programs supported by the American Cancer Society!

Watch the video above by First Day Films to see Gifford's speech!