"Sports Doing Good" is an ongoing look at how sports can bring joy, happiness, healing and love when the cameras aren't on.
In our inaugural "Sports Doing Good" feature, we highlight Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph.
"With so much drama in the" (props to Snoop) Nation today, it's amazing how a simple, uncomplicated action can warm our hearts. During their visit to Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, the Seminoles' football team happened to be there during lunchtime when Rudolph saw student Bo Paske sitting by himself.
So Travis grabbed a slice of pizza and went to sit with him. What he didn't know was that Bo has autism and often sits by himself. When Travis sat next to him, this simple act of caring was captured in a photo and sent to Bo's Mom, and that's when the tears of happiness started flowing.
She posted the photo and the words below on her Facebook page, both which went viral.
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 remember one kid on the bus called me "Tammy Fay Baker" bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn't see me anymore I cried. 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.
(Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel)
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! #travisrudolph #gonoles #FSU#autismmom #fansforlife
Travis wasn't aware of the photo or the post, and when he was told about it he almost started crying himself.
Jimbo Fisher on Travis Rudolph: "I was extremely proud of him." pic.twitter.com/voZeeX84l6— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) August 31, 2016
With so much attention spent on foolishness, ignorance and hate in today's world, it's great to know that one simple action can make things better in as little time as it takes to eat a slice of pizza with someone you don't know.
So thanks Travis for having a heart and giving us something we can all cherish, celebrate and share.