FSU receiver makes the day of autistic boy eating lunch !

All so often we hear about the negative side of sports, and college athletics in particular. Tuesday, however, a heartwarming story unfolded when the Florida State Seminoles visited the Montford Middle School in Tallahassee.

The Seminole team were in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Receiver Travis Rudolph noticed one boy sitting by himself eating lunch, and decided to sit next to him and enjoy the mid day meal.

Little did Rudolph know how much this simple gesture and act of kindness meant. The child, named Bo Paske, has austism, and sits alone often.

Fortunately, someone in the school snapped a photo of the two sitting together, and sent the photo to Bo’s mom Leah, who then posted it to Facebook with a heartwarming story :

“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. 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. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life! #travisrudolph #gonoles #autismmom #fansforlife “

There are so many different elements of this story : Ostracism, race, childhood, mental health — all overcome by this one simple gesture.

Seminoles Head Coach Jimbo Fisher weighed in with his thoughts after hearing about what Rudolph had done :

What makes the story even better is that Rudolph was not looking for a “photo op” or any kind of notoriety or publicity. He simply saw a young boy eating alone and decided to sit with him :

How did Bo Paske feel about dining with Rudolph? The next day at school he said: “It was kinda like me sitting on a rainbow” .

But wait, it is not YET over for Bo Paske :

Once simple gesture, one simple act kindness can mean so much. Travis Rudolph has made fans of us all.