RALEIGH, N.C. — Serving community is what Donald Burnette is all about. He served the country while in the U.S. Army, but for the last 26 years, he's been serving in another way.

Burnette sets up soccer fields for kids in Raleigh to better their own lives. 

What You Need To Know

  •  Donald Burnette has lived in North Carolina most of his life

  •  For 26 years, he's been setting up soccer fields for kids to use

  •  Burnette served in the U.S. Army

From Nov. 4 to Dec. 3, thousands of soccer players and their families from around the country gathered in Raleigh to show their skills to college coaches hoping to find future stars for their programs.

The North Carolina FC Youth Showcase supplies fields across the Triangle from Efland to Raleigh, creating an economic impact for the city that is estimated to profit $27.8 million. Over 550 teams and 1,000 college coaches attended this year's showcase, and not a single goal would have been scored this year if not for Burnette and his team. 

"We like to see the joy on the kids' face, once they have played their game and ended their weekend," Burnette said. "As long as we're able to do what we need to do, and you have it set up by the time that they need to have it set up by, then we're putting out a good product so that we can make sure that the kids are coming into our complex to play. [We want them to] have the best opportunity that they can show to college coaches what they have to bring to the table."

Burnette is a maintenance tech at the WRAL Soccer Complex. It means that he's become an expert in several areas of setting up fields and using complex machines and equipment. He's someone who can answer questions for his teammates and can do almost any job that's required of him.

He says that you don't do this job if you aren't dedicated to helping kids. 

"We see that turnaround in kids even if they don't play soccer [at the collegiate level]," Burnette said. "They always come back to us to either referee or have some part of our organization. It's a family and that's what we strive for. We're community-oriented. We try to make sure we're putting out a good product for the kids in the community and as much help as we can give the community, that's what this organization stands for."

Even though the VisitRaleigh.com Showcase only happens from November to early December, that doesn't mean the job Burnette and his crew perform ends come mid-December. It's a full-time job that is done 365 days a year, setting up the fields and maintaining them for other tournaments and learning opportunities.

Burnette says that in his 26 years of setting up fields, he can't begin to fathom how much paint he's gone through. 

"If you really sit down and thought about it and calculated the amount of paint I've used, it would probably be a Guinness World Record," Burnette said. 

The NCFC Youth Soccer Organization is one of the country's largest and oldest youth soccer clubs and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Burnette says he has no plans to stop his mission of helping kids and growing the game of soccer.

If you are interested in signing up for next year's showcase, click here

If you are interested in joining Burnette's team, click here