The resume of Marilyn Hamilton, vice president of global
planning and strategic services for Sunrise Medical, Longmont,
Colo., reads something like this: founder of Quickie Wheelchairs;
award-winning businesswoman; co-founder of Winner on Wheels, a
nonprofit, coed, scouting program for children in wheelchairs;
board member for The California Endowment and the American
Association of People with Disabilities; accomplished wheelchair
These achievements are but a few of the reasons why Hamilton was
named one of six recipients of the 2002 HomeCare Caring
Awards, which honor individuals who have provided distinguished
service to the HME industry.
“Marilyn Hamilton's ‘get-out-there spirit’ has
raised the bar for an entire industry,” says Mike Hammes, CEO
of Sunrise. “As an industry icon, she has made us all really
think about product and quality. Her commitment to the HME provider
and to bringing product to the market that not only changes lives
but builds business is unrivaled. The HME industry has been
fortunate to have Marilyn as one of its leaders over the past 20
To find out what drives this real-life Wonder Woman,
HomeCare talked to Marilyn Hamilton about her career.
HC: How did you become involved in the HME/DME
Hamilton: I have been involved in the industry for over
20 years. My involvement came as a result of an accident and the
realization that there were no mobility products that were even
close to acceptable available. When I went through rehab, all that
existed were heavy steel wheelchairs. In my first year post-injury,
I went through four different wheelchairs. I wanted to continue
leading an active life. The products that were in the market left
people without a sense of opportunity or even personal dignity. As
result, we founded Quickie in 1980.
HC: What has made you stay in the industry?
Hamilton: My role as an advocate is paramount to me. Over
the years I have been fortunate to be a friend, mentor and
colleague to many interesting people, including athletes like David
Kiley and Randy Snow; young people such as teen advocate Cody
Unser; automotive legend, Darrel Gwynn; and athlete and author,
My role at Sunrise Medical has allowed me to stay involved
directly with new product development, customers, clinicians and
consumers. Being able to bring cutting-edge products to market that
answer the voice of the consumer through manufacturing advances is
thrilling. It is the essence of advocacy in action.
HC: What has been your greatest challenge?
Hamilton: Getting people to think “out of the
box” about new products. I have always tried to push the
envelope by encouraging others to look at things differently and to
listen closely to the voice of the consumer for whom product is
Another great challenge is product quality. I am part of an
organization that makes quality a part of our culture. It is my
dream that this sentiment will one day resonate throughout our
HC: What advice would you give HME/DME providers about their
role in the industry?
Hamilton: Listen carefully and take time to learn about
each individual and his or her needs. Help consumers understand
industry challenges and encourage them to join us in fighting for
their right to the best quality products. Stay engaged and active
with issues that impact funding, legislation and consumer advocacy.
And, surround yourself with great people and have fun!