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Family of young Olathe East coach who died of COVID-19 talks impact he had with community

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OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) — The Olathe East High School family lost one of its most cherished members over the weekend. Coach Chris Burnett, Sr., died Saturday from COVID-19.

His family said Burnett had a lot more to give the world, and they will move forward with helping his dreams become reality.

Burnett was not vaccinated. When the virus swept through his family, it hit him hard, and now they want to warn others that COVID-19 is real and took the life of an extraordinary 34-year-old man very quickly.

He loved football from the time he was a child in the little leagues, growing into a player at Olathe Northwest, and then into a coach for one of his high school rival teams, Olathe East. But what Burnett loved more than the game was the positive impact he had on children.

“He impacted a lot of kids in this community, but we didn’t realize the magnitude of how many kids he actually touched,” Kim Burnett, his father, said.

Messages of support mean everything to his family now mourning their loss. Joy penetrates the grief as they remember the kind, happy, funny man.

“That’s all we did is joke and laugh,” Kim Burnett said. “We argued about football, we made bets, he’d always lose, and he knows more about sports and football than me, but I usually won the bet, and that’s how it went laughing.”

“He definitely was a mama’s boy, and he was not ashamed to let you know that for sure,” his mother Carolyn Burnett said.

It was that connection Carolyn Burnett felt as her son slipped away Saturday.

“The crazy part was all day long Saturday my stomach was feeling anxious, and kind of I just had this feeling Saturday that something wasn’t right,” she said.

The Burnett’s said their son was a strong man who fought until the end. To overcome COVID and return to his children who know him as Coach Burnett and the four who call him dad.

“Cherish every day that you live but also live those days like he wants to be remembered,” Carolyn Burnett said. “What we have a great comfort in right now as all of those messages, all of those texts, all of the things that we are saying has brought us a lot of comfort, and we’re just so proud of him.”

“He did a lot for this community a lot for the kids and he had a lot more to give I just wish he was still here to continue what he wanted to do with his community and the kids in it,” Kim Burnett said.

When he died, Burnett was in the middle of putting together a nonprofit to help children whose fathers are not present in their lives. It’s something his family hopes to run with. They also plan to start a scholarship fund in his memory.

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