By Raven Fon
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop
Travis Rudolph wasn’t asked to go out of his way and make someone feel better. There were no secret plans involved, and it wasn’t an elaborate surprise to make a child smile. It was a conscious choice by Rudolph to do something that he wanted to do.
As one of Florida State University’s most promising wide receivers, you will probably see him drafted into the NFL in the near future.
Rudolph and some of his fellow athletes were paying a visit to the school and decided to grab a slice of pizza during lunch.
After looking at a sea of students stuffed together, he saw a table with only one occupant. A little boy boy who was eating lunch by himself.
So, like the friendly guy he is, Rudolph politely asked if he could join the boy for lunch. Next thing they knew, they were chatting like old friends. What the college football star didn’t know, was that boy he was sitting with usually doesn’t get many people asking to sit next to him. He has autism and finds it difficult to make friends.
A school staff member took a photo of the two eating their lunch and sent it to the child’s mother, Leah Paske. As soon as she realized who it was that was sitting next to her son, tears started to roll down her cheeks, and she cried.
The emotional letter you are about to read was written by Paske and had a heartfelt affect on Rudolph who began to cry when he read these touching words. He was so moved, and had such an enjoyable time with the boy, that he gave them his number so they could talk whenever they wanted. What a guy!
“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. 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.”