Novi senior Robby Heil adds to 'Rudy' moment, wins homecoming king

In a scene reminiscent of a feel-good movie, Robby Heil lived up to the hype Friday night.

Heil, a senior at Novi High School who was born with Down syndrome, busted out a classic dance move after being named homecoming king during halftime of the football team's 27-23 loss to Plymouth Salem.

With the entire student section chanting "Robby!, Robby!," the newly crowned king did a little dance on the field, much to his supporters' delight.

His father, Chuck Heil, took no credit for Robby's dancing technique.

"No, no, not me," Chuck said with a laugh. "I'm not a dancer."

The entire experience left Robby, a football team manager and water distributor, with a memory he will always cherish.

"I feel happy," he proclaimed. "I love all the people who supported me. To win this award is fun."

Novi homecoming queen Mary Grace Sinkovich fully expected Robby to be named king, but she was pleasantly surprised by his dance.

"I loved it. It's so Robby," said Sinkovich, a senior. "He's such a fun kid, always enjoying life. Pretty much all four years it was a given that Robby was going to win king. He deserved it."

The homecoming ceremony was especially gratifying for Robby's mother, Debbie Heil, who continues to battle cancer. Debbie is a big supporter of Novi football, often shooting photographs from the sidelines.

"It was a beautiful moment, to see the high school embrace him and love him," said Debbie, who couldn't hold back tears. "It was a surprise to see him win. We're very proud."

Robby's moves did not surprise his mother.

"Oh, he loves dancing in front of everybody," she said. "He likes to make people smile. That brings joy to him, making people laugh and smile."

Friday's game was not the first time Robby gave Novi football fans something to cheer about.

In the school's Sept. 16 contest against South Lyon East, Robby -- wearing his No. 24 jersey -- played running back for one "unofficial" down. He took advantage, scoring a touchdown and getting to celebrate in the end zone with his mother and players from both teams.

"As my wife said, it was a 'Rudy' moment," Chuck said. "It was really fun to watch."

Making things even better for the Heil family, Debbie received positive news recently in regards to her second bout with cancer.

"She's been going through some treatments and the last test results were good," Chuck said. "Not a cure, but good news. Nothing is growing."

For one night, the script was perfect for Robby and the Heil family.

Detroit Free Press


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