Florida State Football Player Eats Lunch With Autistic Boy

A Florida State football player quietly did a good deed. Travis Rudolph was visiting Montford middle school in Tallahassee Florida with some teammates when he noticed a boy eating lunch all alone. Rudolph came over with his own pizza and sat with the kid, eating and talking to him. The boy’s name is Bo Paske. He is in grade six and he has autism.

The Florida State University Seminoles wide receiver said he simply asked if he could sit with Bo, who agreed, and told Rudolph he is a Florida State football fan. Travis said that it turned into a nice conversation, reports the Orlando Sentinel. He described Bo as a really warm person.

The young man’s action was definitely noticed. Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, saw a photo of the pair sitting together and started crying. She described her thoughts about the encounter in a moving Facebook post. Leah describes her fears over her son starting middle school and worries about him being alone. As a mother, she wonders whether Bo is aware of people staring at his odd behaviors, not getting invited to birthday parties, and eating lunch alone. She then thanked Travis Rudolph for his kindness:

“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!”, Leah wrote on Facebook.

The Florida State Seminoles football coach was also impressed with his 20-year-old wide receiver. “You can make someone’s day by being yourself and understanding the impact you have as an athlete,”, said Jimbo Fisher.

ASD, better known as autism, is a complex neurological disorder. People with autism can have different symptoms such as intellectual disabilities, difficulties with motor coordination, and can have attention and physical health issues, according to Autism Speaks. The disorder can also lead to social awkwardness and bullying from others.

People with ASD can also have great intellectual strengths in specialised fields such as science. Many also desire to be more social and have friendships but find it difficult to fit in.

Bo was diagnosed with autism when he was 3-years-old. According to his mother, Bo eats lunch alone most days. Leah says it’s heartbreaking for her, but that Bo doesn’t seem to get bothered by it. She constantly worries whether Bo will have any friends in his new school. The small gesture by Rudolph has had a huge impact for Leah and Bo.

When interviewed, Travis Rudolph said he didn’t even realize that Bo had autism when he met him. Rudolph said it was heartbreaking for him to learn about Bo’s situation. Bo is a great kid said Rudolph, and he would love to hang out with him anytime.

Leah Paske’s Facebook post has been shared more than 8,000 times so far. Bo and Leah have been invited to a Florida State football team dinner. They will also be going to a live FSU game.

The encounter between Travis and Bo has also given Leah renewed optimism about her son. She is hopeful that Bo will have more lunch friends in the future. He certainly has a great story to share with others now.

Travis Rudolph has a bright future as well. Along with being a caring individual, he is also a very good athlete. Rudolph is the team’s leading receiver and has hopes of making it to the National Football League. He now also has two new fans.

[Photo by Doug Benc/AP Images]

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