Most companies just pass the hat among employees when charities come knocking. That's not lively enough for Garrett Turbine Engine Co., of Phoenix, a division of The Garrett Corp., an aerospace company based in Los Angeles. Annually for the past 27 years, about 200 Garrett employees have volunteered to enter a ring with thrashing broncos, mean-spirited bulls, and wild horses. Garrett then charges folks to watch the fun. It is the company's annual amateur rodeo, a two-day affair that earns big bucks for charity. Last year, the event attracted some 10,000 spectators and roped in a profit of about $10,600, which went to an organization benefiting the mentally and physically handicapped.
Garrett's rodeo traditionally includes such events as roping calves, racing horses, and -- this really takes courage -- putting panties on cows. The participants include everyone from engineers to secretaries. "Most of the employees who volunteer don't have any rodeo experience," says Garrett spokesperson Jim Gember. "They do it to help local charities, but they also do it for the thrill factor. Everyone has fun, the company gets a tremendous amount of local media exposure, and it gives us a great image in the community."