It’s often the smallest acts of kindness that have a huge impact on a person’s life, as was recently shown when a U.S. footballer accompanied an autistic boy for lunch.
Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver for Florida State University, was visiting a school in Tallahassee, Florida with several other players this week when he noticed one young student sitting by himself in the cafeteria during lunch.
Rudolph’s decision to sit with Bo Paske that afternoon left a lasting impression on both Bo and his mom, Leah Paske, who posted a photo of the happy moment on Facebook, where it quickly went viral, with over 13,400 shares at the time of writing.
By just being kind, FSU WR Travis Rudolph reminds us all that a small gesture can make a big difference to someone: https://t.co/fY7iD6Qfud
— ESPN (@espn) August 31, 2016
“This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone,” she wrote in the caption.
“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!”
Recalling her own difficult experiences in middle school, she wrote that she often worried for Bo, who usually had lunch alone.
“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 added.
Bo Paske sits by his mother Leah during an interview at Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida. Pic: AP.
The heartwarming story was widely shared across the country, much to Rudolph’s surprise, who said he wasn’t expecting such a huge reaction.
Telling his own side of the story, Rudolph said: “We just had a great conversation. He started off, telling me his name was Bo, telling me how much he loves Florida State. We went from there.”
“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,” he said, adding: “I’m glad it can bring awareness to helping others.”
“It was real easy… you’d never think anything was wrong with him. He had a nice smile on his face. Just a really warm person,” he said, as quoted by Associated Press.
Hey, Travis Rudolph: You made an old man tear up. Thanks for being a good person. A very good person. https://t.co/chI5RBV5ZI
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 31, 2016
Since then, Leah reported that Bo no longer has a shortage of lunchtime companions.
The sixth grader himself couldn’t be happier, saying: “It’s been awesome. Everyone was so proud of me.”
Bo and his mom may even be able to thank Rudolph in person for his kindness, as plans are in the works to have them join the team for dinner, and maybe even a game.
Image via Facebook