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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 not 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, out front waving the wildcat flag proudly was Robby, wearing number 24.

On the sidelines snapping photos was one proud mother. Debbie Heil finally got to see her special needs son in a jersey and on the field with his team.


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Even the rival time took some time to honor Robby and give him a jersey.

“See, both teams are going to get together and have a nice picture,” she said.

But she had no idea what was in store.

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When the team learned that Robby’s mom has advanced cancer, the Wildcats decided to give Debbie 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.

Mom on the sidelines broke down 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,” Debbie 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. And the opportunity to put that helmet on tonight, it brought tears to my eyes tonight and tears all over the place,” head coach Jeff Burnside said.

FOX25 News Boston |