Jon Stewart spoke at the funeral of a retired New York City firefighter the comedian befriended while lobbying for health benefits for Sept. 11 first responders.

Raymond Pfeifer died Sunday after an eight-year fight with cancer. He had spent months digging through debris after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He became a key voice in fighting for health care for first responders.

Stewart also became a leader in the effort. At Pfeifer's funeral Friday on Long Island, Stewart fought back tears. But he also joked about the retired firefighter's tenacity and grace.

He says Pfeifer carried prayer cards of many of the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11. Stewart said Pfeifer used them as inspiration. Then Stewart pulled Pfeifer's prayer card from his pocket and emotionally thanked his friend.