Thanks to a Florida football star’s small gesture, one boy with autism may never eat his school lunch alone again.
On Tuesday, Travis Rudolph, a Florida State University footballer, visited a school in Tallahassee with his teammates when he saw 11-year-old Bo Paske sitting by himself in the cafeteria. Without second thought, Rudolph joined the sixth grader for lunch.
“I saw him sitting there by himself and I got a plate of pizza and I asked him, can I sit with him, and he said, ‘Sure, why not,’” Rudolph told the Tallahassee Democrat. “He started off, telling me how much he loves Florida State and we went from there.”
“I had tears streaming down my face,” Leah wrote, in reaction to the photo. “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.”
In her caption, Leah also noted how tough middle school was for her and how she now has feelings of anxiety for her own son at school. However, because Bo has autism, he doesn’t seem to notice the trivial things that would usually bother a child, such as enduring people’s stares, not getting invited to birthday parties or eating lunch alone.
That’s why Rudolph’s kind gesture made such a big impact.
“That’s all you need—small acts of kindness. And it can be life-changing for somebody,” Leah told Time. “I was just so touched and so blessed and so humble that he would take a moment to sit with my child.”
According to Bo’s mom, since the incident, the 11-year-old has had no problem finding friends to sit with at lunch, BBC reports.
Reflecting on the now viral photo, Rudolph said: “I just wanted to go say hi to the kid, because I saw him eating alone. I didn't even know anybody took a photo of it. I'm glad it can bring awareness to helping others.”
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