Forbes magazine has placed Stryker on its list of the 400 richest Americans, estimating her net worth at more than $1.5 billion. The family fortune came from Stryker's grandfather, Homer Stryker, who started a medical supply company and invented the first hospital bed that could be turned to help prevent bedsores in patients with spinal injuries. He went on to patent dozens of other innovative medical products that netted millions.
In 2002 Stryker refocused the family foundation to become the Bohemian Foundation, a private organization dedicated to encouraging youth and enhancing communities. In addition to her own foundation's spending, she has given out out millions in philanthropic donations, including $20 million to Colorado State University in 2003.
Yates now works on behalf of Stryker in many of her endeavors, and though she didn't attend many of the meetings where strategy was mapped out for the Democrats, Yates served as her representative. "I can tell you she is a person of great passion and compassion," says Yates of Stryker. "She cares about this state. She wants Colorado to be the best place to raise a child."
While Stryker's focus is on the traditionally Republican-dominated platform of family, each of the Democratic millionaires had different reasons for going to war against the Republicans. For Tim Gill, taking on the majority in the state Legislature was a highly personal battle.
A shy man who has never been comfortable in the public eye, Gill has overcome his own reserved nature to champion gay rights. Working from his home near the Denver Country Club, Gill is now one of the leading funders of gay causes in the United States.
In addition to his opposition to what he calls Musgrave's "monomaniacal desire to restrict the rights of gay people," Gill took offense at the attacks on homosexuals that he felt were a staple of the last legislative session, particularly Rep. Shawn Mitchell's bill that would have forbidden teachers from discussing homosexuality without parental permission. "Basically it would have prevented teachers from talking about 'alternative sexual lifestyles' in the classroom," says Gill. "And that meant that I wouldn't, for example, be able to go to my alma mater to tell the story of how I got where I am because that includes mentioning my boyfriend. That seemed like a totally unreasonable restriction on free speech. So I became focused on eliminating the possibility that something as stupid as that would come before the legislature again."