One of the biggest downsides to my “professional world” (writing and analyzing politics) is that most of what I deal with is negative information, comments and messages. Doing what I do, it’s very easy to get jaded, cynical and often doubt your faith in humanity. When people who are interested in doing something similar to what I do ask me for advise on what they might need to be successful, one of the things I always tell them is that they better have very thick skin.
That being said, I wanted to write about an incredible story that legitimately gave me goosebumps.
It involves a young autistic boy, a football player from Florida State University and a grateful mother.
As reported by CBS Sports:
Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph will be an impact playmaker for the Seminoles offense on the field this season, but on Tuesday, he played an even more important role off the field — just by taking some time out of his day to have lunch with a middle schooler with autism who normally eats alone.
Rudolph was at the middle school Tuesday afternoon when he spotted the student sitting by himself, so he walked over and decided to enjoy a couple of slices of pizza with the boy. Little did he know why the child was sitting alone, nor the impact his simple, sweet action would have on the boy’s mother.
You can’t realize how amazing this gesture by Rudolph was until you read what the boy’s mother wrote on Facebook:
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.
“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. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my son’s school today. 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 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. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!”
There were so many facets to this story that I absolutely loved.
While the mother says she’s “grateful” that his autism seems to prevent him from understanding some of the isolation he endures as a young child dealing with the disorder, you can tell it breaks her heart that her son sometimes gets looked at strange, doesn’t get invited to birthday parties and often eats lunch by himself. When you read what she posted, you can just feel the overwhelming gratitude she has for what Travis Rudolph did for her son.
The humanity of this blew me away.
When told about the mother’s post, Rudolph said it nearly brought tears to his eyes and told the mom if her son wants his cell phone number he can have it.
In a world of news that’s always so damn negative, vile, petty, racial, bigoted, ignorant and downright hateful — we need more stories like this to remind us that true humanity isn’t really all that difficult. I’m sure when Rudolph sat down with this boy, he had no idea what kind of impact it would have on that child’s mother who worries every day that her son won’t have anyone to eat lunch with.
As for Travis Rudolph, what an amazing person. We often hear about the athletes who aren’t doing the right things, but I think it’s important that we praise those who are. Without a doubt, Travis Rudolph deserves all of our praise for doing something that a lot of others probably wouldn’t have done.
Here’s a link to his Twitter account if you’d like to let him know what you thought about his act of kindness.
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