NOVI, Mich.– It was a memorable night for one Michigan high school senior.
Robby Heil has spent the last four years as the hydration manager for the Novi High School football team. On Friday night, Robby, who has Down syndrome, got to step onto the field.
The game was tied, 7-7, with about 10 minutes left in the first half. Robby took the hand-off and ran for the end zone as everyone chanted his name. Touchdown!
Both teams surrounded the boy to celebrate his big moment, which was especially emotional for Robby’s mother. Debbie Heil has been battling bone bone cancer.
“I dropped to the ground because I was so emotional when I saw him make that touchdown,” Debbie Heil told WXYZ in Detroit. “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.”
The play was orchestrated by Novi coach Jeff Burnside, who reached out to the South Lyon East coach. The Detroit News reported the other team even presented Robby with his own jersey.
“He feels he’s a part of the football team. He knows he’s very important bringing them water and the boys love him. They’re the first ones to give him hugs and he’ll tell the players to calm down when they get down on themselves,” Debbie Heil said.
The TD didn’t count towards the final score.