When Michele Gottschlich says she always tries to think innovatively, she is being modest. So when she says that the Mill Creek Triangle Trail will become a reality, we believe her.
WeTHRIVE! knows Michele as a resident of Evendale who’s passionate about active living. From co-authoring Evendale’s award-winning Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan to building a collaboration to ensure that kids can safely walk to school, she epitomizes the WeTHRIVE! movement.
What many don’t know is that Michele is a nutrition scientist and researcher who revolutionized the treatment of burn patients. Working quietly at Shriner’s Hospital for Children for the past 33 years, she showed that the right nutrition improves recovery time and survival in children with severe burns. Her work has made a difference on a worldwide, life-or-death scale.
Before Michele’s research, nutrition wasn’t seen as a priority in severely burned patients. Once it became standard to feed these patients through a tube (with a patented formula Michele developed), beginning as soon as they get to the hospital, they stopped dying from infection and malnutrition. “I solved that problem and made a difference on an international level,” Michele said. “Now I want to do the same with this issue!”
The issue Michele has moved on to is her vision of “catalyzing active movement in Evendale and beyond.” She’s worked tirelessly to get support and funding to build part of the Mill Creek Triangle Trail that will begin near Arlington Heights and Reading, continue into Evendale and Sharonville, then connect to trails in Sharon Woods. It’s the ‘red’ side of the triangle, as you can see on the map below.
Right now, she’s bringing together leaders from Evendale, Reading, Sharonville, and Great Parks of Hamilton County. “The synergy between communities and disciplines is how you get things accomplished,” Michele explained. Each of these entities has their own master plan. “We want to tie all these together to make a master plan for our part of the Triangle Trail,” she said. “This document will be used to go to big funding agencies.”
Michele rapidly lists the benefits of the Triangle Trail. In addition to the obvious environmental impact, there are economic benefits as well. “Mill Creek flooding affects poor communities and increases the cost of insurance for people who live there,” Michele said. “When we build the trail, improvements will take homes out of the flood plain.”
The economic impact of bike and pedestrian trails is well-documented, Michelle said. Studies show that property values within one mile of a trail will rise significantly. Always a researcher, she wants to explore the health impact of the trail as well. “I’d like to see a model of the health benefits of the trail within a 1-2 mile radius,” she said. “I want to do a health impact study looking at chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome now…and then see the affect after the trail is in place.” She plans to obtain a grant to do this.
But it’s what happens on the trail at a personal and community level that excites Michele the most. “The trail will span generations,” she said. “It’s for everyone, from kids to senior citizens.”
She goes on: “It is so inclusive, there are no boundaries of age, income or color of skin. It’s so transparent, and it’s fun. You’re out there being active, not sitting in your house eating trans fat!”
Michele truly believes that the trail can help solve the world’s problems. Remember, this is the person whose research transformed the care of burn patients. Back then, she believed that nutrition could save the lives of her patients. She was right. Now that she’s moving on to improving our lives by making active living easier, who knows what the future will bring!