Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver with the Florida State Seminoles, ate lunch with a lonely autistic boy who was eating by himself. The gesture touched the boy’s mom so much she cried tears of joy.
Rudolph, 20, and his FSU football teammates were visiting a local middle school on Aug. 30 when he noticed a boy was sitting by himself in the cafeteria.
“I asked if could I sit with him and he said, ‘Sure, why not?’” said Rudolph (see video starting at :18).
“He told me his name was Bo, and how much he loves Florida State.”
Someone sent a photo of Bo having lunch with Rudolph to his mom, Leah Paske, who shared her gratitude in an emotional Facebook post.
Leah said her son had just started middle school, and she was worried his classmates would shun him because of his autism.
“Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my son’s school today,” Paske recounted. “I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten.”
Leah continued: “This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes.”
Paske said she’s sometimes grateful that Bo is autistic, because then he wouldn’t notice when people make fun of him or avoid him, especially in the lunchroom.
“Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism,” said Paske. “That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. He doesn’t seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. And he doesn’t seem to mind if he eats lunch alone.”
Leah said her son usually eats lunch by himself, and it breaks her heart.
“[When I ask him] Who did you eat lunch with today? Most days it’s nobody,” said Paske. “Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn’t seem to mind.”
At a time when entitled, overpaid athletes like Colin Kaepernick, a Muslim, can’t be bothered to stand in salute to the American flag, it’s reassuring to remember there are heroes like Travis Rudolph our children can look up to.