Remember that time when a Florida State footballer sat down with a lonely autistic boy for lunch one day? We do.
The year was 2016. We had yet to be forced down the darkest of timelines due to some Russian election meddling. United Nations scientists were still trying to figure out just how screwed we all were due to climate change (spoiler alert: totally and utterly). And the Chicago Cubs finally defeated their curse to win the coveted World Series.
And another thing happened back then. NFL hopeful Travis Rudolph, then a wide receiver for Florida State University, sat down with a lonely red-headed boy in middle school to have lunch together.
His name was Bo Peske and he had autism. Rudolph didn’t know that at the time--he just saw a boy eating lunch by himself and thought that it might be a kind gesture to ask if he could have lunch with him. So, while FSU footballers visited the Tallahassee middle school, Rudolph sat down and had a lovely lunch conversation with Bo.
He didn’t find out about Bo’s autism until days later when the story went viral.
The story blew up after Leah Peske, Bo’s mom, posted a heartfelt letter along with an image of Rudolph and Bo eating lunch together.
“Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today,” wrote Leah. “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.”
And it sure wasn’t. Rudolph was later interviewed by local and national news to understand why he decided to sit with Bo that day. To hear him say it, it was just a kind thing to do for a kid dealing with those awkward teenage years.
Sometimes it seemed the Rudolph didn’t know how to deal with his new-found internet fame. "To see this happen is just a blessing for him and me,” he said.
After that day, Bo no longer sat alone at school. In a follow-up report from The Washington Post, Leah revealed that he instead sits with a bunch of girls at his school and is one of the most popular kids in class.
As for Rudolph, he eventually made it into the NFL, first with the New York Giants, and then most recently with the Miami Dolphins. He tore his ACL at his first team practice with the Dolphins in October, and we hope that he recovers quickly so he can keep playing football and making little boy’s dreams come true.