In 2014, to mark their 50th wedding anniversary, Beverly and Gerry Berkhold gave $50,000 to five different Alberta-based charities: the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, the Field of Crosses Memorial Project, the Matt Banister Memorial Skatepark at Hull Services, Redcliff Scholarships For Advanced Education and the Alberta Cancer Foundation in support of the Margery E. Yuill
“We thought it was a nice way to give a boost to some of the charities we were already supporting anyway,” says Beverly.
It was a significant donation, but not entirely out of the ordinary for the generous couple, who, over the years, have gifted more than $1.3 million to various Alberta Cancer Foundation initiatives.
Throughout their many decades together, the Berkholds have made it a priority to give back — both through donations and hands-on volunteerism — to their province and their community.
“We’re able to [give], and it’s just part of being in the community: you give if you have the ability to do it,” says Gerry, who owns Calgary-based Atlas Concrete, a ready-mix concrete manufacturing business.
In the mid-1990s, Beverly was invited to join the Alberta Cancer Foundation board of trustees, where she eventually proposed the idea of incentivizing fundraising (and honouring local philanthropists) by naming medical centres after their significant donors.
This idea came to fruition in the Berkholds’ own hometown in 2011, when the Medicine Hat Cancer Centre was officially renamed the Margery E. Yuill Cancer Centre following a $3-million donation, via the Alberta Cancer Foundation. The Berkholds themselves contributed $1 million to improve research, treatment and care at their community centre, and their family friend, Willard Yuill, donated $2 million in honour of his mother, Margery, a dedicated nurse and humanitarian who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1965.
Neither Beverly nor Gerry had personal ties to cancer when they first began volunteering for — and donating to — the Alberta Cancer Foundation more than 20 years ago. They were compelled to get involved and stay involved because of the inspiring people they kept encountering throughout the cancer community.
“They’re pretty special people — the [staff], the other fundraisers and particularly the researchers,” says Gerry. “To provide some support and encouragement to these scientists via public contributions is, I think, very important.”
Through their own organization, the Berkhold Family Foundation, Gerry and Beverly have also donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s patient financial assistance program, which provides financial help to cancer patients who are struggling to cover the costs of their treatment and everything else that comes with facing a cancer diagnosis.
“If you don’t have a job and you’ve got a family and children and no income, it’s very stressful, so this is part of what we do [to help],” says Beverly.
Today, Beverly and Gerry reside in Calgary. Having raised two boys, and with three grandchildren, a successful business and a lifetime of giving under their belts, there is still no slowing down for the Berkholds: they are now looking to support advancements in brachytherapy through the Alberta Cancer Foundation.