ADA-accessible pond at central Ohio park helps man with ALS enjoy lifelong love for fishing


WEST JEFFERSON, Ohio — This time of year, people are out at our parks fishing.

At Prairie Oaks Metro Park, one fisherman is benefiting from the hobby in a very special way.

Among the sounds of nature is an infectious laugh. It's one you can hear several times a week if you come here to throw in a line.

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Rich Mann has been fishing his whole life, usually standing on two feet until a few years ago when he was diagnosed with ALS.

But thanks to the ADA-accessible pond, Rich is still doing what makes him happy.

"This is a gem. It's beautiful. I can drive around the whole park and fish," Mann says.

With a shelter for cover and smooth paths, he comes out to the park in all kinds of weather, usually making a lot of friends and sharing his knowledge.

"People would want to come up and talk about fishing, see what I knew and learn stuff. It keeps me getting out of the house and not be sad and dwell on my health," he says.

He's caught a lot of big fish at this pond with the pictures to prove it.

Whether he reels in a fish or not, for Rich, it's a way to tackle something else — his battle with an incurable disease.

"This really takes all the concerns out of my mind. It relaxes me so much," he says, "That's all we can do. Stay positive every day."

To learn more about fishing at Prairie Oaks Metro Park, click here.

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