Kathie Lee Gifford Praises Hoda Kotb in Emotional Tribute: She 'Made Me a Better Person'

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Kathie Lee Gifford's heartfelt speech about her Today co-host Hoda Kotb at an American Cancer Society luncheon on Monday brought many in the crowd to tears.

Kotb was honered as the American Cancer Society's Mother of the Year, and Gifford talked about how the two met during her introduction for the 53-year-old anchor. Gifford said she met Kotb nearly a decade ago, when NBC tried convincing her to return to television after her 15-year stint on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.

"I fell absolutely, madly in love with this life force called Hoda, who just made me a better person," Gifford said, sharing that she knew immediately that she had made a lifelong friend.

Gifford, 64, continued to gush about Kotb's famously upbeat personality.

“The only thing bigger than her smile is her heart,” she said. “Hoda Kotb is my Egyptian sun goddess. 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.”

"It is my great honor and privilege 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," she continued. "I adore you, Hoda Kotb."

Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2007, and underwent a mastectomy. A decade later, she announced on the Today show that she had adopted a baby girl named Haley Joy Kotb.

To make a donation to the American Cancer Society, you can visit ACSMothersOfTheYear.org. The money raised goes to cancer research and patient service programs supported by the American Cancer Society.

For more on Kotb and her adorable daughter, watch the video below: