Lunchroom visit earns FSU football player "fans for life"

Published: Aug. 30, 2016 at 11:54 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro

August 31, 2016

At last check, the picture had more than 24-thousand likes on social media and is now making news across the country.

It shows an FSU football player sitting across the lunch table from an autistic student, making sure he doesn't eat lunch alone.

That player? Star wide receiver Travis Rudolph. The student? Bo Paske.

"Bo! What's up?"

Students came up to Bo Paske outside the cafeteria Wednesday and gave him handshakes, hugs and high fives.

Bo Paske has become an instant celebrity at Montford Middle School.

"It's so awesome!" he said.

The 6th grader was sitting all alone at lunch Tuesday when FSU Football player Travis Rudolph walked over and asked if he could join him.

"I was just so psyched," Paske said, "like an FSU football player just came and sat with me!"

This picture has gone viral. It's been shared thousands of times. Bo's mother posted it on Facebook to thank Travis Rudolph and she is anxious to do that in person.

"I just wanted to thank him," Leah Paske said. "Something that seemed so small to him was just...I mean... was really life altering for me," Leah Paske said as her voice cracked and she fought back tears.

Bo was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. His mom is overwhelmed with messages she's received from the parents of autistic children all over the world. She hopes this speaks to all parents and children.

"If you see somebody that's sitting alone, if you see somebody that's kind of isolated from the group to just say 'Hey, want to come sit with us?" Leah Paske said.

"We saved you a spot!" a cheerleader said when Bo Paske walked into the cafeteria Wednesday.

Bo enjoyed his chicken salad sandwich at a lunch table full of friends.

"I just want to say to all of the kids thank you so much for believing in me," Bo said.

Network news crews have been calling non-stop and the story was featured on the CBS Evening News Wednesday.

FSU has invited Bo and his mom to meet the football team. They've been invited to a team dinner, the Noles' home opener and even have an offer to join the team at the Noles season opener in Orlando.

By: Julie Montanaro

August 30, 2016

An FSU football player scored a touchdown Tuesday - in the game of life.

A photo shows FSU wide receiver Travis Rudolph eating lunch with Montford Middle school student Bo Paske.

Paske has autism and his mom says most days he eats alone, but Tuesday, Rudolph was visiting the school and noticed Bo sitting solo in a lunchroom full of people.

He was quick to change that.

"Honestly I saw him by himself and I was like, yo, can I have a seat with you and eat with you?" Travis Rudolph said. "He was like sure, why not? We just started out having a good conversation."

"It was a great convo ... a great kid overall," Rudolph said. "Honestly that's a cool person. I'll hang out with him any day."

Bo's mom says the photo of the two sitting alone at the table moved her to tears. Rudolph says he was close too and he hopes Bo and his family can join him for an FSU football game this season.

A Facebook post from Bo's mom says Rudolph now has "fans for life."

"I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son," Leah Paske wrote. "You made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!"