Alex and Cheryl Fairly, Ross Wilson Honored at National Philanthropy Day Luncheon

CANYON, Texas — Prominent supporters of West Texas A&M University were recognized Nov. 17 at the annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon in Amarillo. 

 Cheryl and Alex Fairly, who are currently serving on the One West campaign leadership committee, were named Outstanding Philanthropists, and Ross Wilson of Texas Cattle Feeders Association, chair of WT’s Ag Advisory Board and member of the One West campaign steering committee, was named Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. 

 The Fairlys and Wilson were nominated by WT and chosen as winners by a committee of the Texas Plains Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which hosts the luncheon. 

 The Fairlys and Wilson exemplify the servant leadership qualities that are a founding principle of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. 

 The Fairlys are quiet but impactful philanthropists. They made a lead gift for WT’s Buffalo Stadium, which opened in 2019 and was named best stadium in Division II in 2020. One of the stadium’s most visible features, the Fairly Group Club, was named in honor of the couple and their Amarillo-based risk consulting firm. 

 The couple, both of whom graduated from WT, also support nonprofits like San Jacinto Christian Academy and Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and community initiatives such as the campaign to bring the Sod Poodles to Amarillo and the recent “Inspire Amarillo” video singing contest that raised much-needed funds for nonprofits that helped people impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 “Over the last five years, we have witnessed the incredible commitment of Alex and Cheryl to many different charitable causes, whether it be high school art students, paying student tuitions at West Texas A&M University, or donations for the medical expenses of the children at Boys Ranch,” wrote Jerry Hodge, former Amarillo mayor. 

 Alex Fairly, who was named a WT Distinguished Alumnus in 2017, launched The Fairly Group in 2016. The Amarillo-based company is a nationally recognized leader in the risk management field. 

 “They are an inspiration to others and most deserving of this recognition,” WT President Walter V. Wendler said in a nomination letter. 

 Wendler also spoke highly of Wilson, who led the campaign to raise $10 million for WT’s new Agricultural Sciences Complex on Russell Long Boulevard.  

 “It was Ross’ diligence, persistence and influence that motivated the committee of 15 volunteers to believe it could be accomplished and develop a plan for securing funding,” Wendler wrote. 

 The complex includes the Caviness Meat Science and Innovation Center, the three-story Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building, the Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion, the Bain Event Center and a multi-purpose area with spectator seating for up to 500 people. 

 Since the complex opened in 2018, the ag program’s footprint on campus has grown to include the Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 DVM, The Texas A&M University System Center, which encompasses the Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach Building and the Charles W. Graham DVM Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Building. 

 Texas Cattle Feeders Association, under Wilson’s leadership, also played a pivotal role in securing a $4 million legislative appropriation for WT’s ag initiatives. In 2019, Wilson was given WT’s inaugural Presidential Panhandle Pioneer Award. 

 Also recognized at the NPD ceremony were Tyson Foods, Outstanding Large Business; Access Community Credit Union, Outstanding Small Business; Soroptimist of Amarillo, Outstanding Community Service Organization; State Farm Foundation, Outstanding Foundation; Turn Center’s Celebration of Hope, Outstanding Fundraising Event; and Charlotte Rhodes, Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 The event was headlined by keynote speaker Lynne Twist, founder of the Soul of Money Institute and author of the bestselling, award-winning book “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life.” 

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