Mom Praises FSU Athlete for Making Sure Her Son With Autism Didn’t Eat Alone

Travis Rudolph #15 of the Florida State Seminoles looks on against the South Florida Bulls during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida.
Travis Rudolph #15 of the Florida State Seminoles looks on against the South Florida Bulls during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Get ready for the waterworks! A thankful mom in Tallahassee, Florida, shared a touching Facebook post about a Florida State University athlete who took the time to have lunch with her young son, who has autism, on Tuesday, August 30.

During a visit to Montford Middle School with some of his teammates on Tuesday, FSU receiver Travis Rudolph spotted a sixth grader named Bo Paske sitting by himself at lunch and instinctively sat down to join him.

A friend of Bo’s mom, Leah Paske, snapped a photo of the touching moment and sent it to her, inspiring Leah to share a lengthy post about how meaningful that small gesture was to her and Bo.

“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?” Leah began her post, which has since been shared more than 9,600 times. “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,” the emotional mom continued. “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.”

Travis Rudolph, No. 15 for the Florida State Seminoles, during their game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium on Sept. 27, 2014, in Raleigh, NC.
Travis Rudolph, No. 15 for the Florida State Seminoles, during their game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium on Sept. 27, 2014, in Raleigh, NC. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Leah noted that when her friend informed her that the young man who took the time to eat a slice of pizza with her son was, in fact, a wide receiver for Florida State, she “had tears streaming down” her face.

“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,” she wrote. “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!”

According to the Associated Press, Rudolph, 20, had no idea the impact his actions had until he returned to campus.

“We just had a great conversation. He started off telling me his name was Bo, telling me how much he loves Florida State. We went from there,” the athlete told the AP. “It was real easy … you’d never think anything was wrong with him. He had a nice smile on his face. Just a really warm person.”

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