NORTHBORO (CBS) – Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a story at Thursday night’s debate about Mitt Romney’s generosity toward a Massachusetts family.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

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The family told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Friday they were surprised Ryan brought it up, but they’re still grateful for Romney’s help.

“I was talking to a family in Northboro, Massachusetts the other day, Sheryl and Mark Nixon. Their kids were hit in a car crash, four of them. Two of them, Rob and Reed, were paralyzed,” Ryan said.

“The Romney’s didn’t know them. They went to the same church, they never met before. Mitt asked if he could come over on Christmas. He brought his boys, his wife and gifts. Later on, he said ‘I know you’re struggling Mark, don’t worry about their college, I’ll pay for it.’”

Reed Nixon, speaking from a hospital bed in the family’s home in Northboro Friday, told WBZ that Ryan’s exactly right about the story from 1995.

WBZ Video Archive: 1995 Interview With Nixons Of Northboro

Reed and his brother Rob were ages 17 and 16 at the time. They had been paralyzed in the accident in April 1995. The Romneys came knocking at their door on what was a somber Christmas Eve day.

“It was Mitt Romney and his wife Ann and three of their boys that were still home and it was a big surprise. We were shocked that it was them,” Reed said.

“All of a sudden they introduced themselves and we were just amazed that they had brought gifts with them and I had never met him, never met his wife or any of the family before.”

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“After our (injuries) we had lots of people that wanted to help us in various ways and it was great for all the support but someone that had run for Senate (in 1994), was well-known, that was great to have someone that was influential coming out to support us.”

Reed’s dad, Mark Nixon, told WBZ that Romney has kept in touch with the family over the years, sometimes helping out financially.

But that day, Christmas Eve 1995, is a day his family will never forget

“You would expect him to be skiing in Utah, up at their cabin in New Hampshire, maybe their family’s taking a cruise for the holiday. But no, on Christmas Eve they’re out visiting the needy and Mitt is teaching his sons that this is who we are,” Mark said.

Reed and his brother both went on to get college degrees. Rob now lives in California, while Reed remains in Northboro.

What does Reed think about what Romney did?

“It showed that he really cares about what people are going through and feels for people that have trials and really cares for lots of people.”

“When Mark told me this story, because you know what, Mitt Romney doesn’t tell these stories. The Nixons told this story. When he told me this story, he said it wasn’t the help, the cash help. It’s that he gave his time and he has consistently,” Ryan said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens contributed to this report.

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You can follow Carl on Twitter @carlwbz.