A college football player who struck up an unlikely friendship with a boy he saw sitting alone in a school cafeteria had an emotional reunion with the child on Monday.
Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver for Florida State’s Seminoles, first met Bo Paske when he visited the boy’s middle school on Aug. 30. Rudolph noticed the sixth grader eating lunch by himself and sat down at his empty table. Paske’s mother shared a photo of their meal on Facebook last week, and her post went viral.
Days later, Rudolph again surprised the boy, who has autism, by personally presenting him with a custom jersey and two tickets to attend the Seminoles’ game Monday.
“Bo, we want you to know that you will always be a special member of the Noles family,” Rudolph told Bo at their latest meeting.
Here’s the photo of their first lunch together:
And here they are meeting again:
Asked by an ESPN reporter what kind of example he hoped to set, Rudolph replied, “That everybody is the same and everybody is great, regardless of whatever they’re going through.”
Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, who was present at the reunion, previously said on Facebook that the image of the FSU player sitting with her son moved her to tears.
“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,” Bo’s mother wrote last week.
Bo was photographed on Monday wearing his new jersey on the sidelines of the Seminoles’ game against the University of Mississippi’s Ole Miss Rebels. He even posed for a pic with ESPN broadcaster Samantha Ponder.
During the game, Rudolph scored the team’s first touchdown of the 2016 season. The Noles ultimately won 45 to 34.