In today’s college football landscape, it seems there are as many student-athletes making headlines for law violations than those scoring touchdowns. But there is one off-the-field story making the rounds that’s restoring the faith of sports fans.
While several members of Florida State University football team visited Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida, they were encouraged to interact with students during lunch. That’s when junior wide receiver Travis Rudolph noticed a child eating by himself.
“I had got some pizza and I asked if I could sit next to him, and he said ‘Sure, why not?” Rudolph said in a video interview with the university.
“I just felt like we had a great conversation. He started off and was so open. He told me his name was Bo, and how much he loves Florida State, and he went from there.”
As it turns out, eating lunch alone is a common occurrence for Bo, who has autism. According to a Facebook post from Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, she asks her son everyday if he ate lunch alone and the answer is usually the same.
“Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody,” Paske wrote in the viral post which garnered more than 10,500 shares. “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.”
Rudolph admitted he wasn’t aware that Bo was autistic.
“To find that (out) it was just, you know, heartbreaking that he’s in that situation but I’m praying for him and I feel like he’s a great kid, overall,” Rudolph told FSU.
In a separate interview with WCTV’s sports anchor Kenny Morales, Rudolph made it clear his friendship with Bo wasn’t a one-time thing.
“He’s a cool person, I’ll hang out with him any day. And for the mom, if he needs my (cell) number, he can get it,” the athlete said.
As for Leah, she never heard of Rudolph before his kind gesture, but she and her son are now fans for life.
“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 in her post.
Photo Credit: Facebook