A college football player’s act of kindness for a middle school student with autism went viral after the student’s mother shared a picture of their encounter Tuesday.
Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Houston during the second half of the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
According to ESPN, Bo Paske, a student at Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida, was sitting alone at lunch, so Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph, who was visiting the school with his team, asked to join him.
Leah Paske, Bo’s mom, took to Facebook to thank Rudolph for spending time with her son, who has autism, and sometimes is ostracized by his classmates. Paske wrote that a friend sent her the picture of Bo and Rudolph and she began to cry.
“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,” Paske 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!”
The shared moment between the pair quickly went viral.
Rudolph told the Orlando Sentinel, “I asked if I could sit next to him, and he said, 'Sure, why not?'”
“I just felt like we had a great conversation," Rudolph said. “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.”
Rudolph said Bo asked him if he was an NFL player, and he replied “not yet.”
“It was really easy to [talk] with him,” Rudolph said. “He had a nice smile on his face. He was a really warm person.”
Jimbo Fisher, head coach at Florida State University, said in a video posted on the team’s Twitter account that he was “extremely proud” when he heard what Rudolph did.
Jimbo Fisher on Travis Rudolph: "I was extremely proud of him." pic.twitter.com/voZeeX84l6— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) August 31, 2016
In another video posted on the team’s Twitter account, Rudolph said the reaction to their conversation has been a “blessing.”
“God makes everything happen for a reason,” Rudolph said, adding that it’s “heartbreaking” Bo was alone but “he’s a great kid and I’m praying for him.”
“He’s a great person and I’d love to hang out with him anytime,” Rudolph said.
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