Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

11-year-old Bo knows this: He has a friend in FSU's Travis Rudolph (w/video)

ORLANDO — His name is Bo. He's 11.

Last Tuesday, Bo was sitting in lunch period, all alone, when someone came up and sat with him. He said his name was Travis.

Monday night, Bo Paske, red hair, crew cut, black-framed glasses, beyond adorable, sat with his mother, relatives and 63,000 fans at Camping World Stadium.

Florida State was playing Ole Miss. Bo wore a Florida State jersey with his last name on the back. It was a present. Monday was his first FSU game in person. The No. 15 on his jersey was the same number worn by his new friend, who played in the game. Florida State won. Bo's friend caught a touchdown, too.

Related: FSU opens season with wild victory over Ole Miss

Bo knows Travis.

They're pals.

Yes, it was a big football game.

But one act of kindness was and is bigger.

Last Tuesday, Travis Rudolph, a Florida State receiver from West Palm Beach, joined some teammates in a visit to Montford Middle School in Tallahassee. Travis Rudolph spotted Bo, who is in sixth grade, sitting by himself in the lunch room. Bo is autistic.

Travis only saw someone who needed company.

A school resource officer took a photograph and forwarded it to Bo's mother.

Leah Paske began crying when she saw it.

Leah posted the photo on Facebook. She wrote, "I had tears streaming down my face. 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 the 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."

The post went viral online. It has been shared more than 15,000 times.

"I think we've done an interview with every national channel," Leah said.

"Everybody has been coming up to me daily, telling me I'm a great person," Rudolph said. I don't see myself any differently. That's just me. That's what I do."

A picture told a thousand words.

"A million words," Leah said.

She sat in the stadium Monday, three hours before kickoff. Bo, her only child, was playing with his cousins.

"I've gotten messages from people in Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand," Leah said.

Bo is a star.

"Sure am," Bo said.

Leah smiled.

"He doesn't sit by himself all the time. It's a fantastic school. He does actually have a lot of friends. But he was sitting there by himself. He does that about half the time."

And he met a new friend.

"He's my friend. Yes, sir," Bo said of Travis.

They met again a few days after the photo. Florida State gave Leah six tickets to Monday's game. Leah and Bo went to the FSU team hotel Monday morning to see Travis, who presented Bo with the jersey. ESPN was there. Leah and Bo were on the field before the game. They're going to go to a team meal later this week.

"He told me this was the best day of his life," Rudolph said.

"It's been amazing. A small gesture of kindness is all it takes," Leah said. "A simple post, giving thanks for such a small act, can touch so many people."

Travis Rudolph caught 59 passes last season and made seven touchdowns.

Bo plays basketball.

"We were already big FSU fans," Leah said. "We're sure Travis Rudolph fans for life. He's a superstar to me and he always will be. Super sincere. Super genuine."

Hours before the game, Bo was running around with his cousins. Bo knows fun. On the field, a choir was practicing the national anthem. Then Leah and her sweet boy went to a railing and looked at the field. Bo waited for his friend Travis to run out.

 
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