Robert and Dian Bolling of Roanoke said their three teenage sons suffer from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition severely affecting their communication and social skills, and the yard aliens -- green plastic space alien figures about the size of a toddler -- had served as stress relievers and teaching tools for the family, The Roanoke Times reported Thursday.
The family was upset by the theft of the decorations April 22, but Robert Bolling discovered a pair of brand-new replacements in a box on his front porch Friday.
The Times said a reader who asked to be named only as Beth said her preschool-age son was a fan of the figures and she decided to help when she read a Times article about the theft.
Beth tracked the origins of the aliens to a company called General Foam, and officials at the company were able to track down two of the green figures -- the aliens are still made by the company, but not in green -- at a Tarboro, N.C., factory.
Beth obtained the Bollings' address from the Times and passed it along to General Foam, which sent the replacement figures free of charge.
The Bollings said their sons were excited when they unwrapped the new aliens for them Wednesday.
"I love the way the story ends," Robert Bolling told me. "Someone took the time and did a selfless act. They didn't have to do it. It makes the story so much sweeter."