Photo via Leah Paske/Facebook

Florida State football player shows kindness to middle schooler with autism

When Travis Rudolph joined the preteen for lunch, he earned himself a fan for life.


Lyz Lenz


Published Aug 31, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 3:20 am CDT

Middle school is hard for everyone, even if you have friends. But for Leah Paske’s son Bo, who has autism, middle school is even more isolating.

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Paske wrote on her Facebook page that Bo just started middle school and often eats lunch alone. She noted that she is sometimes grateful for his autism, because it means he doesn’t always realize that he’s left out.

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He doesn’t seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. He doesn’t seem to notice that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn’t seem to mind if he eats lunch alone. It’s one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody.

But all of that changed earlier this week, when the Florida State University football team came to the middle school, and wide receiver Travis Rudolph sat with Bo during lunch. A friend sent the photo to Paske, who then posted it on her Facebook page, writing, “Travis Rudolph, thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!”

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The post has since been shared over 9,000 times on Facebook. Rudolph, who read the post before practice on Tuesday, told the local CBS affiliate WCTV that it brought him to tears.

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 “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,” Rudolph said.

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2016, 2:29 pm CDT