BYRON — Those usually required to use wheelchairs for mobility were able to operate underwater machinery, swim in wetsuits and pan for gold at the Gold Prospecting Event at Swift River Pines in Byron on Saturday, thanks to the nonprofit Outdoors Again and several volunteers.

“Our mission is to assist paralyzed people to get outdoors again,” said Geoff Howe of Outdoors Again, a nonprofit founded by Geoff and Mike Howe of Howe and Howe Technologies.

After Howe and Howe Technologies became a world leader in extreme vehicle fabrication in 2012, according to its website, Geoff and Mike Howe asked themselves, “What else can we do to help?”

That’s how the nonprofit Outdoors Again came into existence.

For Fred Whitt of Falmouth, panning for gold was a new experience — but it wasn’t his first time getting outdoors again since he was in a serious accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

His son, who works for Howe and Howe Technologies, urged his father to attend the event.

“Fred was always very active,” said his wife, Colleen, as she watched Fred operate prospecting equipment underwater. “He’s very adventurous. Since the accident, he’s kept a good attitude. And he learned to play the ukulele.”

For Tony Tulo, panning for gold helped him discover additional mobility in his arms. At the last gold prospecting adventure held by Outdoors Again three years ago, volunteer Cheryl Wade said he could rotate his own gold pan — he just needed some help.

Now, Wade said, he’s a rockstar.

“I just wasn’t used to the motion, but once I got used to it my body allowed me to move that way,” Tulo said.

Outdoors Again hosts several events geared toward those coping with paralysis, such as fishing and outdoor concerts. More information can be found at the organization’s website at www.outdoorsagain.org.

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Steve Pritz, left, watches Stanley Stevens operate the equipment used to separate the “heavies” like gold and silver from rocks and river sediment at Outdoors Again’s Gold Prospecting Adventure event in Byron on Saturday. Will Caldwell is beneath the water with Fred Writt, suctioning the dredge from the river bottom.

Jonathan Gray, 7, left, is helped by volunteer Rosie Susbury at the Outdoors Again Gold Prospecting Adventure event at Swift River Pines in Byron on Saturday.

Volunteer Cheryl Wade, left, explains how panning for gold works as Tony Tulo finds gold flakes at the Outdoors Again Gold Prospecting Adventure event in Byron on Saturday.

Geoff Howe, left, and Mike Howe of Howe and Howe Technologies take part in the Outdoors Again Gold Prospecting Adventure event at Swift River Pines in Byron on Saturday.

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