Every nine minutes someone in the US dies from a blood cancer. Bruce Spann is working to slash that number. His efforts to eradicate blood cancer have him working on his cocktail shaker skills and brushing up on drink recipes, because soon he’ll tie on a bartender’s apron for his June 4 stint as a Blutender in Blu Bar and Lounge. Spann is one of five Milwaukee men vying for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) title Man of the Year. The title will go to the man who raises the most money over the course of 10 week period between February and June. Spann, a longtime Pfister Hotel patron, is hoping Milwaukeeans will find the combination of Blu’s fantastic views and cocktailing for a cause irresistible and bring in supporters to his LLS fundraiser.
Spann, a longtime blood donor and member of the bone marrow registry since the 1980’s never thought much about blood cancers until he heard a radio piece on Jori Lauren Leflore, a 12 year old Milwaukeean who was battling Leukemia. The story powerfully impacted Spann, whose strong relationship with his son helped make the story of this little girl a personal one, despite not knowing her or her family. Jori lost her battle with cancer in 2010, but her influence lives on through her mother, Ptosha Davis, a celebrated supporter of LLS, and those who were moved by her story, like Spann. It is Bruce Spann’s hope that he can one day raise enough money for LLS to have a research grant created in Jori’s name, both honoring her memory and hoping to find a cure for disease that took the child that inspired so many.
Shortly after becoming involved in fund-raising efforts for the Milwaukee Chapter of LLS, Spann became aware that African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by blood cancers, and they have far fewer sources of much needed bone marrow donations. As he became aware of the need, the Marquette University alum knew he needed to act. Determined to combat this disease that so impacted his community, Spann became of member of the Board of Trustees for the Wisconsin Chapter of LLS. He is currently serving his sixth year on the board.
Beyond his philanthropic work, Spann is a fascinating man. The owner of a civil engineering firm is interested in the new developments happening in downtown. An avid traveler, Spann is now making plans for this seventh trip to Africa. He has a passion for adventure and exploration and is as at home at a marketplace in Istanbul as he is dodging hungry monkeys in Zambia. He is an art enthusiast who favors the work local artist and former Pfister AIR Reginald Baylor. A frequent patron of Mason Street Grill, he enjoys the hospitality of bartenders Zara and Emma, and hopes he can convince them to share a few tricks of the trade before his big night behind the bar.
Bruce Spann’s Blutending fundraiser is open to the public and he encourages all to attend. All of the tips Spann and his team earn on Monday, June 4 between 5:30- 7:30 PM will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with the The Pfister Hotel adding to the donation 10% of all drink sales placed during the event. If you want to learn more about Bruce Spann’s fundraising effort to combat blood cancers, click here.