CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As she made her way to Rev. Graham's "final crusade," Kathie Lee Gifford took a moment to share details on her sweet relationship with the man known as America's pastor.
"Who said this was a sad day?" Gifford asked. "This is a triumph of a life well lived."
Gifford credited the Reverend for helping her find her faith when she was just 12 years old.
"I came to faith in Jesus when I was 12 years old by going to the very first movie the Billy Graham association put out, it was called, 'The Restless Ones,'" Gifford said. "There was an alter call at the end of it and I went down and asked Jesus into my heart."
The 'Today' anchor said most of her family has Rev. Graham to thank for their strong faith. But it wasn't until later in her life when her and Rev. Billy Graham formed a special bond.
"Later when my career took off I was asked to do Christmas specials and I wanted Billy to be on my very first Christmas special," Gifford said. "I wanted a special on national television that was actually about Jesus."
When Gifford initially reached out to the Reverend about the special, she was told he doesn't do secular television.
"I think they (the association) was doing what they always do when they have requests for Billy... but Billy must've heard about it because then I got a call and they said, 'Dr. Graham would love to do the Christmas special if the invitation is still there,'" Gifford recalled.
Rev. Billy Graham ended up coming to Gifford's home and read The Christmas Story from the Book of Luke in front of her fireplace.
"That's what really started our dear, dear friendship," Gifford said.
From standing besides him at crusades to their private friendship, Gifford said Rev. Graham was instrumental to her strong faith.
"Every time something happened in my life that was really painful and all splashing across the tabloids, my phone would ring and I would hear his voice, 'Kathie it's Billy. How are you honey? Let me pray for you. Let me pray with you,'" Gifford recalled teary-eyed. "He would just take whatever time it took to get me back to that place of, 'Okay... God's got this.'"
Gifford also recalled the fun times with Graham, like him requesting a McDonald's Big Mac when he came over to her home.
Her last memory with the Reverend was at his 95 birthday. Although she described him as a "mountain of a man," she said he seemed frail at the party.
"I went over and he was sort of not all there, you know how somebody is, so I said, 'Billy... it's Kathie Lee,'" Gifford said. "I got down close to his ear and I could see him and his eyes just open wide and he focused and he goes, 'Oh Kathie, I love you honey.'"