West Palm native, Cardinal Newman alum Travis Rudolph praised for kind act

Travis Rudolph might be the most widely respected Florida State player entering Hard Rock Stadium when the Hurricanes host the Seminoles on Oct. 8, and the respect he’s earned has nothing to do with his football career.

Rudolph, who is entering his junior season as a wide receiver on FSU’s football team, made headlines Wednesday after a random act of kindness was caught on camera and shared on social media. When Rudolph and his Seminoles teammates visited Montford Middle School in Tallahassee on Tuesday afternoon, he noticed a young boy named Bo Paske eating alone. He decided to join the boy for lunch and, during the meal, a photograph was taken and sent to Bo’s mother.

Bo has autism and the thought of her child suffering from bullying and eating his lunches alone gives Bo’s mother Leah anxiety. So when Leah saw the photo of Rudolph eating pizza across the table from her son, she decided to post the picture, along with an accompanying message, on Facebook:

The Facebook post got back to Rudolph, who, like many who read the post, was nearly brought to tears by Leah’s words.

The meeting between the football star and the lonely luncher touched the heart of another mother. Linda Rudolph, who along with her husband, Darryl, raised Travis, 20, and his two older siblings (Terrenie, 31, and Darryl Jr., 24) to carry themselves with confidence but to never look down on others, was proud to see her son’s act of kindness.

“As a parent that really, really made me feel good because I always teach my kids that you never, ever judge anybody and you treat everybody with respect,” she said. “And you always remember that you can walk out that door and your whole life can change. He [displayed] all our values and goals and I’m happy about that because it makes a parent feel good to know your kids are doing the right thing on and off the field.”

Linda Rudolph said seeing the photo of Travis and Bo sharing pizza bowled her over.

“It’s touching,” she said. “It made me cry.”

As news spread of Rudolph’s act of kindness, support and praise rolled in on social media for the West Palm Beach native and Cardinal Newman High School alum.

On the field, Rudolph put together an excellent 2015 season for the Noles in which he caught 59 passes for 916 yards and seven touchdowns.

During his time at Cardinal Newman, Rudolph was named the Post's small-schools offensive player of the year and was described by his head coach and former University of Miami quarterback Steve Walsh as not being “a kid that walks around thinking he’s the big man on campus.”

Though he might not be concerned with that distinction, that doesn’t mean he can’t be celebrated for showcasing a big heart.

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