Howard Berneburg

Longtime Volunteer Gives Back to Moffit with a Bequest

Howard Berneburg

Ever since his beloved wife was treated at Moffitt Cancer Center, Howard Berneburg has been giving back.

He volunteered at Moffitt for 11 years and was once named Volunteer of the Year. He worked directly with patients and caregivers, offering them a sympathetic ear and a ray of hope. He became known as "the candy man," because he pushed a snack cart throughout the hospital and handed out goodies to patients. He calls volunteering "the experience of a lifetime."

Recently, Berneburg decided to give back in a different way, by planning to make a bequest to the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation. His reason for making a bequest is simple and powerful.

"I want to provide funds for research and treatment of leukemia," Berneburg said. "Down the road, I hope it will bring about the day when the leukemia that my wife had is not a death sentence."

Berneburg is a retired treasurer for a manufacturing company in Pennsylvania. His wife Melanie worked in licensing and compliance for a bank.

They moved in 2006 to the Tampa Bay area where they enjoyed the weather and the chance to drive nearly year-round with the top down on Berneburg's Mustang convertible.

Cancer struck Melanie without warning. She went to a doctor who thought she might have gall bladder symptoms. Blood tests soon showed she had acute myelogenous leukemia, an aggressive form of the disease. Melanie was transferred to Moffitt in February 2008 and stayed until late April. She returned home, but needed additional trips to the hospital for chemotherapy and other treatments. Sadly, she died about a year after her diagnosis.

Berneburg would not wish this experience on anyone, but along the way, he and Melanie grew to deeply appreciate the care they received from Moffitt's doctors, nurses and aides. "The people there were wonderful, absolutely incredible. And the volunteers were so nice to us. I started thinking, maybe I can repay that."

Bernburg is making the bequest to Moffitt because he wants the remainder of his estate to go to a cause that is meaningful to him. The gift is in his wife's memory, and the funds will be used for leukemia research.

"I've seen the good work they do at Moffitt, and if there's any way I can help in my small way, I'll do it," Berneburg said. "That's why I volunteered and it's why I am making this bequest. It's a good feeling, because I know I've done something worthwhile."

Get in touch with Moffitt's Planned Giving team