Boy with Down syndrome scores touchdown as terminally ill mother watches

Friday night was special for Novi High School in Michigan.

After four years of serving the athletics department, Robby Heil, a senior with Down syndrome, finally got his chance to score a touchdown in a game.

“This is something that we thought we could do to bring some joy, hopefully some outstanding memories,” Novi head coach Jeff Burnside told WXYZ.

Robby was put into play during the second quarter against South Lyon East and the plan was put into place. The handoff went right to Robby, and he booked it for the end zone to score a touchdown. 

The moment was even more special for Robby’s mother, Debbie Heil.

After watching her son score, Debbie, who has been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, dropped to her knees after becoming overcome with emotion. 

“I dropped to the ground because I was so emotional when I saw him make that touchdown,” Debbie told WXYZ. “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.”

Robby also made an appearance on WXYZ’s Sports Cave to talk about what happened. There, he demonstrated his touchdown dance, which wasn’t visible after the touchdown due to his teammates’ overwhelming support. 


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