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Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Brainiac Bash Auctioneer’s Journey from Raising Cattle to Raising Funds

For someone who has lived their life on a ranch, she sure seems right at home on a packed ballroom floor.

Meet Anna Aja, auctioneer extraordinaire for the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona’s 2023 Brainiac Bash to promote brain health.

“I feel blessed to do what I do and view myself as a conduit between great organizations making strides in their fields and with their donors. In fact, I get so involved, I’m often mistaken for being a full-time employee!”

Brainiac Bash Auctioneer’s Journey from Raising Cattle to Raising Funds

For someone who has lived their life on a ranch, she sure seems right at home on a packed ballroom floor.

Meet Anna Aja, auctioneer extraordinaire for the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona’s 2023 Brainiac Bash to promote brain health.

“I feel blessed to do what I do and view myself as a conduit between great organizations making strides in their fields and with their donors. In fact, I get so involved, I’m often mistaken for being a full-time employee!”

This Arizona native grew up on her family’s W Dart Ranch in Cottonwood; her grandfather and uncle were both bid callers. In high school, she met a female auctioneer who convinced her there was room for her in this male-dominated profession.

While in Tucson, Anna was mentored by Champion International Livestock Auctioneer Paul Ramirez. Her alma maters include Mendenhall School of Auctioneering and Professional Ringmen’s Institute, to go along with her B.A. in Agriculture Economics from the University of Arizona.

Anna soon discovered that her talents would lead to her true calling. At a benefit auction, she saw Letitia Frye (this year’s Brainiac Bash Woman of Courage) and realized the skills she had developed could be used to raise funds for worthy causes.

“Letitia took me under her wing,” Anna recalls. “She is an incredible person and has been very generous by opening many doors and showing me how to be successful in this business. You’ve gotta be comfortable with counting and multi-tasking, up to four other things at the same time.”

Soon thereafter, her own list of nonprofit clients began to swell. This roster includes Homeward Bound, Camp Patrick, AZ Burn Foundation, and Catholic Communities Foundation.

More importantly, she also learned the importance of becoming deeply involved with each client.

“I feel blessed to do what I do and view myself as a conduit between great organizations making strides in their fields and with their donors. In fact, I get so involved, I’m often mistaken for being a full-time employee!” she confesses.

She happily accepted the assignment for the Brainiac Bash because of her association with Letitia. “I wanted to honor her by breaking fundraising records and make her proud,” she shares.

But the more she learns about the Brain Injury Alliance, the more her eyes are opened to the great need for the nonprofit’s services.

“I was flabbergasted when I heard about the magnitude of people who live with this invisible disability,” she admits. “There’s so much opportunity to learn about TBI. When you realize how many people have it, it’s so obvious…as well as not.

Of course, once the invisible becomes visible, there’s no going back, and Anna recognizes the importance of getting the word out. “We need to advocate for awareness and show what TBI looks like and its effects. This is a great opportunity for all involved,” she says.

When Anna isn’t getting adrenaline rushes from bid calling for great causes, she gets her heart racing by hiking. This passion is in her blood—she has hiked the 24-mile Grand Canyon twice, from rim to rim. “It’s like walking next to a beautiful river, and I’ll do it again,” she promises.

To nobody’s surprise, Anna, her husband, and their three children live on a ranch and call Stanfield, Arizona home. She is also a volunteer coach on her kids’ soccer and volleyball teams.

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Association of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

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