An American woman has taken to Facebook to express her emotions and gratitude to a rising football star who sat down for lunch with her autistic son.
Travis Rudolph is a wide receiver for Florida State University. He was visiting a school along with a few teammates when he spotted sixth grader Bo Paske eating alone.
The 20-year-old star decided to eat his pizza in the cafeteria and sit with Bo.
Rudolph told Seminoles.com : “I asked could I sit with him and he said, ‘Sure, why not?’”
“He told me his name was Bo, how much he loves Florida State. And we went from there.”
“I was just a kid not too long ago… and I remember what the impact was when I saw guys that played in college football and the NFL coming back to us.
“So I felt like maybe I could change someone’s life or just make someone a better person and want to be great just like me, even better.”
Bo was delighted and said: “I was so psyched that an FSU football player came and sat with me.”
Randolph said: “We just started off having a good conversation. A great convo, and a great kid overall.”
Bo’s mother Leah was thrilled to see photos of Rudolph sitting with her son and described the athlete as ‘incredibly kind’ and a ‘hero’.
She posted the pictures on Facebook and said how glad she was that for one day she ‘didn’t have to worry about her little boy eating lunch on his own’.
She said: “She said: “A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption ‘Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son’ I replied ‘who is that?’ He said ‘FSU football player’, then I had tears streaming down my face.
“Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today.
“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.
“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.”
Leah said that she had been worried about Bo starting middle school, and that it brought back her own memories of being that age.
She continued: “Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really?
“I remember one kid on the bus called me “Tammy Fay Baker” bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn’t see me anymore I cried.
“I do remember middle school being scary, and hard. Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them.
“Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism. 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. He doesn’t seem to notice that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn’t seem to mind if he eats lunch alone.
“It’s one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody. Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
“He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets.”
After reading Leah’s post Rudolph said: “Big shout out to the mom because reading that whole story, it touched me. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Honestly, that’s a cool person. I’ll hang out with him any day, he’s welcome to hang out with me.”
FUS have now invited both Leah and Bo to have dinner with the team.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling