DETROIT – When you spot Robby Heil on the sidelines of a Novi High football game, he’s usually helping out with the water bottles, but that was not the case Friday.
He and the team surprised Heil’s mother, Debbie Heil, with a particularly memorable play.
As the Novi High School football team took the field in Detroit, Robby was wearing a number 24 jersey, out front proudly waving the wildcat flag.
On the sidelines snapping photos was one proud mother. Debbie Heil thought she finally got to see her special needs son in a jersey and on the field with his team.
Even the rival team took some time to honor Robby and give him a jersey.
“Both teams are going to get together and have a nice picture,” Heil said.
But she had no idea what was in store.
When the team learned that Robby’s mom has advanced cancer, the wildcats decided to give Heil more than just a picture.
With a timeout, Novi’s new star took the field to a roaring crowd.
With a hike, number 24 got the ball. The senior, who had always dreamed of scoring a touchdown, did just that, running more than 20 yards into the opponent’s end zone.
Heil broke down on the sidelines as she witnessed Robby’s dream of scoring a touchdown come to life. She even joined the huddle, amazed by what she saw.
“This team has been instrumental in helping me get him to practice while I’m at chemo. It takes a village to raise my son, and this village has really been outstanding,” Heil said.
Two schools were left cheering on a champion.
“No matter how bad a day he’s having, it’s a smile from ear to ear,” head coach Jeff Burnside said. “And the opportunity to put that helmet on tonight, it brought tears to my eyes tonight and tears all over the place.”