On August 30, 2016, a football player from Florida State University (FSU) was visiting a Tallahassee middle school with his teammates when he saw an 11-year-old sitting and eating lunch at an otherwise vacant table. The college junior, Travis Rudolph walked over to the boy and asked to sit with him.
“Sure, why not?” the kid responded. He introduced himself as Bo, and the two got to chatting as they ate their lunches—Bo with his home-packed lunch, Rudolph with his pizza.
Sitting with a child eating alone was really no big deal in Rudolph’s eyes. But to Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, it was huge.
Little did Rudolph know, Bo is on the autism spectrum and, more often than not, he sits and eats his lunch alone.
This trend really concerns Paske, perhaps more so than it bothers her son. “I worry every day,” she said. “I wonder if he doesn’t really have any friends. It’s hard.”
That’s why Rudolph’s gesture brought her to tears. Paske posted a picture of the encounter to Facebook and wrote a heartfelt “thank you” along with it:
“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.”
The post quickly went viral; as of August 31, it has been shared over 8,000 times.
Needless to say, Rudolph has been one of the people to see the post (and it nearly made him cry, too!). Of the event, he said that the two of them had a “great conversation” and that Bo is “a great kid overall” and that Rudolph “would love to hang out with him anytime.”
— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) August 31, 2016
In a world where people can be cruel and our heroes sometimes let us down, this story is a beautiful reminder that there is hope for us all.
Want to hear another touching story about strangers reaching out? Check out what happened after a teen with autism was bullied while playing Pokémon Go!
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.