Vice presidential debate puts spotlight on Northborough family
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – During any type of electoral debate, there are all sorts of accusations flung back and forth between the candidates. But occasionally they will share stories of ordinary citizens that have impacted them in some profound way. During the vice presidential debate held Thursday, Oct. 11, Republican nominee Paul Ryan relayed the story of how a Northborough family's immense personal tragedy significantly affected presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his family nearly two decades ago.
Nothing could have prepared Mark and Sheryl Nixon for the phone call that came at 9:20 p.m. on April 4, 1995. In the blink of an eye, their world was turned upside down. Four of their six children were involved in a serious car accident while returning home from a church event in Marlborough. Two of them, Reed and Rob – 17 and 16 respectively at the time – broke their necks and were paralyzed.
News of the accident was broadcast in local papers as well as on CNN and the NBC Today show. Additionally, news of the tragedy spread quickly throughout the Church of the Latter-Day Saints community, in which Romney held leadership positions.
On Christmas Eve 1995, just eight months after the accident, Romney, his wife Ann, and three of their sons paid a visit to the Nixons.
“Mitt came to our home without cameras or fanfare,” recalled Sheryl. “He came with his wife and his sons and brought boxes and boxes of gifts for Reed and Rob. It was purely with a servant's heart that they came to help someone in need. The Romneys were a “bright light” during a difficult time. They showed us all the depth of their character and their desire to serve generously – with no expectation of recognition.”
In the months and years that followed, Romney participated in fundraising efforts for the Nixon family – running in 5K road races and playing in golf tournaments. When Reed graduated from Bentley College with a degree in finance, Romney sent a gift to commemorate the event.
Sheryl and Mark Nixon have gotten to know Romney and his family over the past 17 years. They are outspoken about their support for him and his bid for the presidency.
During Thursday night's debate, Ryan told the story of Romney's support for the Nixons to the nation. Sheryl said it was a testament to Romney's humble generosity and a demonstration of his strength of character.
“I trust Mitt,” she said. “He is not working on his own agenda. I am confident that [as president] he will work to draw both parties together and do what is best for everyone. He is a man of great character – honest and full of integrity.”
To learn more about the Nixon family, go to http://communityadvocate.com/2011/11/16/northboroughs-nixon-family-inspires-because-they-%E2%80%98choose%E2%80%99-to-be-happy/#comment-28804.
Sheryl has also shared her family's story in her book, “In the Blink of an Eye: The Reed and Rob Nixon Story.”
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