Remembering Sam Spady as RAR enters its 20th Anniversary

The Responsible Association of Retailers (RAR) program has gratefully entered its 20th Anniversary of serving Colorado. While we are celebrating this milestone in 2024, we also want to honor and remember the person and the reason why RAR came into existence in the first place. RAR was formed to help prevention and wellness efforts in our communities and Partners has been honored to continue this important work since 2019. 



In 2004, our community lost Samantha “Sam” Spady, a devastating loss that led to the creation of RAR through a local task force. Sam was a vibrant and promising young woman who left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew her. Born in Beatrice, Nebraska, she grew up with a zest for life, a love for learning, and a passion for making a difference.


In 2004, Sam was a 19-year-old sophomore studying at Colorado State University (CSU). She was known for her infectious laughter, kindness, and dedication to her studies. Sam’s friends admired her adventurous spirit and her ability to light up any room she entered.

However, tragedy struck on September 5, 2004. On that fateful day, Sam attended a party at the Sigma Pi fraternity house. Over the course of 11 hours, she consumed an alarming number of alcoholic drinks—approximately 30 to 40. The consequences were devastating. Sam was found unconscious in a spare room at the fraternity house, and despite efforts to revive her, she never regained consciousness. Read more in this Coloradoan article from 5 years ago. 




Her untimely death sent shockwaves through CSU and beyond. Here are some key aspects of Sam’s story:


1.The Responsible Association of Retailers was started in order to create a more responsible and closer knit community concerning public safety surrounding the sales and service of alcohol in the Ft. Collins/Loveland communities. RAR is a unique force in the hospitality industry as it was formed to not only promote responsible use amongst adults, but provide prevention and wellness education amongst its’ members and communities as well. Our program has now expanded to include cannabis members and we have chapters in Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties. 


2. Impact on CSU: The Sigma Pi fraternity house, where Sam was last seen, faced repercussions. It was suspended and later shut down due to her tragic passing.

3. Alcohol Ban: In response to the tragedy, the remaining fraternities at CSU voluntarily implemented a student-led alcohol ban within their houses. This decision aimed to prevent similar incidents.


4. The Sam Spady Foundation: Sam’s parents, Patty and Rick Spady, turned their grief into action. They established the Sam Spady Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol poisoning. The foundation continues its vital work today.


5. Educational Efforts: CSU introduced alcohol training for incoming students, emphasizing bystander intervention and teaching students to recognize signs of alcohol poisoning. Sam’s legacy lives on through these educational initiatives.



These actions have helped so many lives and and hopefully saved those who might have had a different outcome had these changes and our services not been available. Despite the passage of 20 years, Sam’s memory remains alive. Her story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of responsible drinking, the need for awareness, and the impact one person can have on the lives of many. May her spirit continue to inspire positive change and save lives


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