This story of a football player eating lunch with an autistic child will make you ugly cry


Sometimes, local college sports teams will go visit a local elementary or middle school. Maybe they’ll speak at an assembly; it’s possible they’ll even stick around and talk to the kids.

So you can imagine the excitement at Montford Middle School when the Florida State University football team visited on Tuesday. Florida State! They’re really good. Must’ve been a lot of fun.

But the story doesn’t end there. The team evidently stuck around for lunch in the cafeteria, and wide receiver Travis Rudolph munched on a couple slices of pizza with Bo Paske, an autistic student at Montford. And the story behind this simple meal is one of the most heartwarming things we can remember reading in a long time.

Paske, his mother Leah wrote in a Facebook post, doesn’t really eat lunch with anyone else. He sits alone, most of the time, and “doesn’t seem to notice that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties anymore.” (Middle school is brutal!)

This type of thing, understandably, worries Leah.

“Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism,” she wrote. “That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. 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?”

Here comes the part that will make you cry:

A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption “Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son” I replied “who is that?” He said “FSU football player”, then I had tears streaming down my face. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today. 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.

Leah’s story is worth reading in full, because the world is awful and it will make you very happy.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.

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