Football team helps water boy score touchdown

NOVI, MI (WCMH) — A midseason football game became so much more for one high school water boy Friday night.

Robby Heil, a senior with Down syndrome, has served as the Novi High School football team’s water boy for a long time. Friday night, he got his chance to see what it was like to play on the team. Heil carried the ball on a 36-yard run, scoring a touchdown in the first half of Novi’s game against South Lyon East.

Robbie’s mother Debbie, who is fighting advanced-stage cancer, had no idea what was going to happen. When the team learned about her battle with cancer, Novi head coach Jeff Burnside and South Lyon East head coach came up with a plan to have Heil carry the ball on an untimed play. While the play didn’t count on the scoreboard, it’s a moment players, fans and family will remember for a long time.

“This team has been instrumental in helping me get him to practice while I’m at chemo,” Debbie told WDIV. “It takes a village to raise my son and this village has really been outstanding.”

“No matter how bad a day he’s having, it’s a smile from ear to ear,” Burnside said. “And the opportunity to put that helmet on tonight, it brought tears to my eyes to night and tears all over the place.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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