Teen with Down syndrome scores touchdown as cancer-stricken mom looks on

NOVI, MI -- Two teams came together Friday night to do more than just honor a player with special needs.

Robby Heil, a senior with Down syndrome, has been an integral part of Wildcat athletics for the last four years.

He is normally on the sidelines helping out with the water bottles and wearing No. 24.

"You mean a lot to this team, I'm serious you're a big part of this," fellow senior Anthony D'annibale said on the sideline to Robby, right before his big moment.

His teammates had a surprise for Heil and his mother, Debbie Heil, with a particularly memorable play.

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Earlier this year players at Novi High School learned that Debbie Heil was battling advanced-staged cancer. They knew they wanted to do something to honor both Heils.

Both teams paused during their game to allow Heil to carry the ball. As the crowd chanted "Robby" No. 24 took off with the ball, all the way to the end zone.

The senior had always dreamed of scoring a touchdown.
For Debbie, seeing her son reach a goal in his life was more than a special moment in her own.

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"I dropped to the ground because I was so emotional when I saw him make that touchdown," Robby's mom, Debbie Heil said. "I've always been proud of him being the water boy, or as people call him the hydration manager, but this was incredible, he's Rudy tonight, he's Rudy."

Even the rival team took some time to honor Robby.

"This is way more important than football. Way more important," the opposing coach said, as he presented Robbie with a customized jersey.

WDVI reports that Novi head coach Jeff Burnside said he was proud of his players.

"It brought tears to my eyes tonight, and I am sure tears all over the place," he said.
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