Most everyone knows how painful a rush hour commute in Chicago can be –– from cramming into packed buses and train cars to navigating construction and busy streets. Now, imagine navigating that same commute without access to your nearest L stop or waiting fifteen minutes for a bus only to find you’ll have to wait for another because there’s a crowd of people standing in the area designated for wheelchair users. This is a reality that many Chicago residents with disabilities must overcome to go about their day-to-day lives. According to a 2018 community survey, over 520,000 Chicagoland residents, about 10.1 percent of the City’s total population, have a disability. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago’s transit system is not adequately accessible for this community.
In early April of 2020, a high-tech, temperature-controlled cooler traveled halfway across the country on an airplane with a man whose sole job was to get the contents of that cooler –– a promising trial drug to treat a specific form of muscular dystrophy –– from a Baltimore-based research hospital to a family member of mine living in a west Chicago neighborhood. Ordinarily, this family member would make a monthly visit to Baltimore and take the trial drug under the supervision of researchers, but with a pandemic raging on, researchers made do. COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way people around the world are going about their lives and everyone is doing their best to be flexible. Clinical drug trials are no different.