Mustang Family means something more to the Bly family.

If there is a family that represents what it means to be a Mustang, it is the Blys.

Jerry and Ricke (Madsen) Bly, their son, Eric, and his wife Erica (Yingling) are avid supporters of Southwest Minnesota State University, giving of their time, talents and finances to support SMSU in many ways.

Jerry is a Charter Class (1971) member while Ricke graduated in 1973. They take pride in seeing a second generation of Blys rooted in SMSU.

Eric is co-owner of two ag-related businesses: Aspect Ag and Frontline Crop Solutions. He met Erica at SMSU. She had left the metropolis of Phoenix to play volleyball for the Mustangs. Years later, they understand more deeply what Marshall has to offer, what SMSU means to the region, and to them, personally.

They are both 2002 alumni and active Athletic Booster Club members. Their children—Aiden, Jack and Graem—have grown up coming to various events on campus, including games, camps and Mini Mustang activities.

"I can't think of anything else I'd rather do than go to college events as a family," said Eric, whose company Aspect Ag is a sponsor of the Farmer's Open golf tournament, which supports ag scholarships for SMSU students. "SMSU is a community—there's an intimacy, a real sense of family."

Erica echoes her husband’s take on what SMSU has meant to their family. “We get a lot out of being connected to SMSU. The Gala, alumni events—you build a community of friends who share common interests,” said Erica, who supports volleyball scholarships through the Legacy Club and serves on the Alumni Board of Directors.

Ricke describes what SMSU means to her this way: “It continues to challenge me to be young at heart, in spirit and in my mind. It opened doors for me in education.”

Ricke had a long career as an elementary teacher. She continues to be actively involved with SMSU’s GOLD College, a program designed for life-long learners.

For Jerry, he recounts with gratitude the education he received at Southwest. “The degree I received really was a benefit to me in my career,” said Jerry. “If you have a degree from Southwest, you can compete on any stage. It opened doors for me.”

As current president of the SMSU Foundation Board of Directors, Jerry is committed to re-connecting other alumni with SMSU. He sees first-hand the impact alumni giving has at SMSU.

By generously giving to SMSU each year, the Blys make supporting SMSU a priority.

“We enjoy giving back, and helping students discover the opportunities that we had,” said Jerry. “SMSU is a place of opportunity.”

Join the Blys in making your gift during this season of giving. You will enable life-changing relationships and experiences—just like those you had while at Southwest—for current Mustang students.