Leah Paske, whose son Bo has autism, posted the photograph to her Facebook page, explaining that she remembered how scary middle school was when she'd attended, and how she now has similar 'feelings of anxiety' for Bo.
'Sometimes I'm grateful for his autism,' she said. '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.'
However, on the day of Leah's post, some members of the Florida State University football team were visiting Bo's school, and a picture sent to her by a friend showed her that this time, she had no need to worry.
'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"', adding that she had 'tears streaming down her face' as she looked at the snap.
'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!'
Since Leah posted the touching image, it has been shared more than 12,600 times.
Travis pictured with his own mum
In an interview after the picture went viral, Travis, a wide receiver at Florida State, said that Bo was a 'cool person' who he would hang out with anytime.
'I was just a kid not too long ago,' he told Seminoles.com. 'And I remember what the impact was when I saw guys that played in college football and the NFL coming back to us. '
'So I felt like maybe I could change someone's life or just make someone a better person and want to be great just like me, even better.'