Eating lunch in the school cafeteria might seem like no big deal—but for some children, it’s a nightmare that they wish they could escape from.
While other kids talk, laugh, and enjoy themselves, these kids sit by themselves and eat alone, day in and day out, just because they’re a little different.
But recently, one such boy looked up to see a stranger asking to sit down—and just like that, he made a friend for life. And not just any friend…
Travis Rudolph, a football star at Florida State University, who in a few years is expected to have a shot at playing in the NFL, was out visiting a school with with some of his teammates.
At lunchtime, Travis went to the school cafeteria and saw a little boy sitting alone at a table. Travis grabbed some pizza, walked over to the boy, and asked if he could sit down. No one put Travis up to it; he just saw a lonely boy and wanted to keep him company.
They started talking and hung out together the whole lunch period. An onlooker took a photo and sent it to the boy’s mother, Leah Paske.
When Leah saw it, she immediately started crying. Because what Travis Rudolph didn’t know about his simple act was how much it meant.
Leah Paske’s son has autism, he has difficulty making friends, and he eats lunch alone every day. Now, he was suddenly spending time with a sports star—and his mom decided to write a Facebook post about it.
“Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really?
I do remember middle school being scary, and hard. Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them.
Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism. 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? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody. Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets. 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.
Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!”
Watch an interview with Leah, her son, and Travis Rudolph here:
Seeing how much even this small gesture meant to this boy really moved me. Please share this article if you also want to pay tribute to Travis Rudolph’s kind act!
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