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Local Legend Finds Meaning in Life’s Lessons

While the pandemic has prompted fear and uncertainty across the globe, some individuals refused to allow this time to determine their destiny. Richard Million Burke, Jr. is one of them.

“We all suffered extreme changes of lifestyle during the past year’s pandemic, and many of us—myself included—lost our jobs and had to overcome many new obstacles,” says the Westlake Village resident, who celebrated his 61st birthday on March 30.

The closure of gyms, especially, had a big impact on Richard, who utilized these facilities as a key part of his fitness habits and efforts to stay healthy. Prior to the pandemic, he had been working out at both the Westlake Village Equinox and YMCA, using their swimming pools and fitness equipment.

“But that all changed last March,” he recalls. After trying to switch most of his workout to hikes and fitness activities around his neighborhood park, he discovered the outdoor pool at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks had reopened and settled into a routine of swimming one hour, three days a week.

Prior to his 61st birthday, he decided to combine his love of swimming with his passion as a volunteer mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County.

“I initially set a goal to swim 6.1 miles—430 laps—to celebrate my birthday and reserved a lane at CLU for four hours straight to make sure I’d have time to complete it,” he remembers. “However, when I did the math, I saw I’d likely have a lot of time left in that last hour and decided to up my goal to 500 laps, or 7.1 miles…I’d never swam that long or far before but I knew it would be memorable and help raise life-giving funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

He set a goal of raising $500, figuring people could donate up to 10 cents for each lap he swam.

“I was so pleased when I posted the fundraising challenge on Facebook two days before my swim; we hit over $800 in the first hour and raised over $2,300 by the time I had completed it.”

In other accomplishments, Richard created two businesses and one nonprofit during this challenging time. Up until March 2020, he was working with Mercedes-Benz, creating custom commercial vehicles for businesses and individuals, primarily in the Sprinter van platform, “but I lost my job due to the pandemic.”

Despite this setback, “I saw that helping businesses go to their customers and helping individuals get out of the house in a safe family environment was even more important, so I went into business for myself.”

He created Success On Wheels LLC ( to help businesses make their operations mobile. He also developed the PopRak ( a rooftop bed system to address the number one challenge of adventure vans, which is how much space beds take up inside of them and limitations on how few people they can sleep.

Additionally, he founded his own nonprofit, ServeOne, to build an initiative of awakening youth to the potential they have to impact the planet through combining leadership mentoring programs with a year of cumulative community service.

“The idea is that by the time they finish school, they’ll have more purpose in life by experiencing the positive difference service makes,” he explains.

Looking back on his accomplishments since the pandemic hit—and knowing that many continue to struggle or have lost all hope—he offers the following advice: “Realize that life is about a process of constant self-improvement.”

“Focusing on the lessons of both success and failures, instead of dwelling on their outcomes, is where the meaning of life is found,” Richard further emphasizes. “There are so many inspiring people in the world and you can make them part of your inner circle as easily as reading a book or seeking them out. Then the magic of how inspiration flows through you and positively affects others becomes reality.”