Friday, June 22, 2018

Travis Rudolph

Autism Light #466 is Travis Rudolph.

Travis Rudolph is a wide receiver in the National Football League, who has played for the New York Giants since 2017. He was born on September 15, 1995, and is from West Palm Beach, Florida. He played for the Florida State University football team in college. Travis Rudolph is an Autism Light because in August 2016, he was visiting Montford Middle School in Tallahassee with other Florida State players and at lunch he sat next to Bo Paske, a student with autism who was eating by himself. Travis Rudolph will be added to the Autism Light Sports page today.

Travis Rudolph
The encounter Travis Rudolph had with Bo Paske prompted the boys mother Leah Paske to write on Facebook, "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! (, Jared Shanker, FSU WR makes 'fans for life' by eating with autistic student. August 31, 2016)."

Florida State: Travis Rudolph played for Florida State University football from 2014-2016. His college statistics are listed by Fox Sports.

NFL: 2018 is Travis Rudolph's second season in the NFL as a wide receiver for the New York Giants. He is 6'0" and 190 lbs. Travis Rudolph's NFL stats are on ESPN.

Below is the news story that CBS This Morning produced in 2016 about Travis Rudolph and Bo Paske. The photo of the two eating lunch together went viral on social media. 

Below is the original heartfelt post on Facebook that Leah Paske posted about how happy she was that her son was eating lunch with Travis Rudolph. After the picture went viral many students wanted to eat lunch with Bo Paske in the subsequent days of the school year.

Wikipedia: To find out more about Travis Rudolph visit the Travis Rudolph Wikipedia Page.

Twitter: You can follow Travis Rudolph on Twitter @TravisRudolph5 to keep up with him on social media.

Special thanks to Travis Rudolph for being an Autism Light and giving special attention and time for a boy with autism named Bo Paske. His example is an inspiration almost two years after his meeting with Bo Paske. We hope that Travis Rudolph's sensitive and caring actions will inspire other star athletes to spend time with children who have special needs. We wish Travis Rudolph all the best in his career in the NFL.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo Credit for picture of Travis Rudolph: By Jeffrey Beall - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Rochel Groner

Autism Light #465 is Rochel Groner.

Rochel Groner and her husband Rabbi Bentzion Groner are Chabad emissaries in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is 34 years old and is the co-director with her husband of  Friendship Circle and ZABS Place, organizations that provide innovative programming and employ young adults with special needs in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rochel Groner is an Autism Light for her daily work with individuals with autism and especially for her actions on July 14, 2017, to comfort a boy with autism during a meltdown while on board an 8 hour transatlantic flight.

On July 14, 2017, Rochel Groner (and Rabbi Bentzion Groner) were on a airplane flight headed home to the United States after taking a group of youth on a birthright trip to Israel. On this flight a boy with autism was having a meltdown on the plane. Rochel Groner used her experience, talents and compassion to help calm the boy for two hours until he was completely over his meltdown and ready to return to his mother.

Rochel Groner applied sensory pressure by holding the boy and found some creative games to play with him in the middle of the flight. She told the Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that after he calmed down, "It was beautiful to see. It was incredible, the transformation. Whatever had been bothering him wasn't bothering him, he was in a better place (Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency, Josefin Dolsten, July 17, 2017)."

Rabbi Bentzion Groner said of his wife, "While most of the passengers watched in awe little did they know that for Rochel this is her life (Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency, Josefin Dolsten, July 17, 2017)."

Below is the Facebook post that Rabbi Bentzion Groner posted about this incident. The post went viral and has received almost 7,000 likes over the first year since it was written.

Friendship Circle: Rochel Groner is the co-director of Friendship Circle. The Friendship Circle website describes its mission as that of "fostering enduring and meaningful friendships between those with special needs, our "Special Friends", and typically-developing teens, our "Teen Friends", in the Greater Charlotte Jewish Community."

ZABS Place: Rochel Groner is also the co-director of ZABS Place. The ZABS Place website describes its work in this way:
ZABS Place is an upscale thrift boutique & employment training center for young adults with special needs run by the Friendship Circle of Charlotte. We have chosen a resale shop as our employment medium because it mirrors our goal of revealing hidden potential (ZABS Place Website, Retrieved on May 31, 2018).
Social Media: You can follow the work of Rochel Groner on the following social media sites.

Special thanks to Rochel Groner for being an Autism Light. Her compassionate and skilled intervention to help a boy with autism in the middle of his mid-flight meltdown on July 14, 2017, is an example to all. In addition, her work at Friendship Circle and ZABS Place is making a tremendous difference to young people with special needs and autism. We wish her all the best in her service that is transformed and inspired by her Chabad Jewish faith. Rochel Groner is shining a light as she lives her faith and serves humanitarian needs such as autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.