Orange County, California attorney Marty Burbank was planning to buy a boat and sail off into the sunset for retirement, but instead he bought new futures for 26 kindergartners.
In an awe-inspiring act of kindness, Marty Burbank, 51, donated more than $1 million to pay for the class of 2032’s college tuition.
One Dream Capsized, 26 Dreams Born
Marty Burbank has always loved sailboats and the water. He spent twelve years in the Navy as a Medical Deep-Sea Diver working with Navy Seal teams, met his wife on a boat and married her on a yacht. Even the website homepage of Marty Burbank’s law firm, OC Elder Law, is backdropped by a sailboat gliding over rippled water into the sunset. So naturally, Marty was planning a nice, 40-foot sailing sloop for retirement.
But one Sunday Marty went to church at Eastside Christian Church, and his retirement plan capsized.
“Our pastor gave a sermon about charity and giving and sacrifice, and at that point I really felt like I could invest in this boat, or I could invest in 26 kids and hopefully make a difference in their lives.
So Marty and his wife, Seon Chun-Burbank—who is a professor and chair of Early Childhood Education at Vanguard University—announced their decision to teacher Tessa Ashton and her 26 kindergartners at Rio Vista Elementary School, where the Burbanks have been long-time volunteers.
“For him to remove that roadblock, it infuses them with a realistic hope,” said a grateful Ms. Ashton who also attends Eastside Christian Church. “This isn’t just some pipe dream anymore.”
Most of Ms. Ashton’s students come from low-income, single-parent homes, and, statistically, their chances of smooth-sailing through college would have been slim. Now they have the opportunity to become first-generation college students.
There’s only one catch: every year, each student must draw a picture or write an essay about what they want to be when they grow up, and send it to Marty and Seon Chun-Burbank.
The estimated more than $1 million gift will be put into a trust fund and will pay for two years of community college, and two years at Cal State University (or the equivalent for a private college or University of California). Oh, and their books.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this, because it brings me so much joy helping kids,” Marty told NBC News, his voice thick with emotion.
A Story of Real, Live Faith
We love this story of how an urging of faith through his pastor’s sermon led Marty Burbank to do something big. At Shattered, we believe faith should be accompanied by not just words, but actions, and this story is an awesome example of that. Way to go, Marty and Seon Chun-Burbank!
You might not be able to give a million dollars to 26 kindergartners for college, but there may be something you can do to move your faith form word to action. You don’t necessarily have to give up your dream retirement; maybe you do decide not to buy a sailboat, or maybe you just decide not to buy new boat shoes. Join the likes of Marty and Seon Chun-Burbank: invest in something other than your own pleasures and find something you can do to make a positive difference—and maybe even break down barriers—for someone else.