Prior to the murders on July 9, 2009, Patrick Gonzalez Jr had the following recognition
June, 2009 (one month prior to the murders) :
The Pensacola Seville Sertoma Club presented Gonzalez and his wife the “Service to Mankind Award” for their dedication to Project FIGHTBACK.
April 24, 2007: Martial arts workshop teaches youth how to defend themselves (Pnj.com)
A Pace couple is taking a stand against sexual predators.
Tabatha and Patrick Gonzalez are not waiting to hear about another child being abducted, but instead are encouraging parents and children to become proactive.
The co-founders of Project FIGHTBACK, a community awareness program, are fed up with children being victimized and preyed upon by sexual predators. With six boys of their own, they have devoted their lives to spreading the message of awareness to parents and children by providing free workshops that teach defense techniques.
“It seems like every time we pick up a newspaper or turn on the television, another child has been abducted, raped or murdered,” Tabatha Gonzalez said.
As certified black belts for the past six years, the co-founders of the prevention program have had 3,000 children in Northwest Florida participate in their workshops.
“Our goal is to get to the children first, and educate them in their rights,” Patrick Gonzalez said.
Cindy Anderson, executive director of TEAM Santa Rosa, said her children have attended the workshop in Pace, and were most impressed with Gonzalez’s approach to child safety.
“He has a way of teaching kids about safety without frightening them, but still being very effective,” she said.
Anderson also said she believes in the mission of empowering children and creating an atmosphere where sexual predators will move on to other areas.
“We all want a safe place to raise our kids, and this is a good way in creating a safe environment.”
Patrick Gonzalez said that while the workshop offers valuable information, it is presented in a fun and exciting way.
“I think the class is a lot of fun, and I believe it is really good for the younger kids,” said Jacob Gonzalez, 10, who has participated in many of his parents’ classes.
Tabatha Gonzalez believes the benefits of the program are far-reaching, and will help children feel they have a right to say no to anyone they don’t feel comfortable around.
“As a society, we teach our children to be polite to adults, and not to talk to strangers,” she said. “Unfortunately, most children don’t really understand what the word stranger means.”
Tabatha Gonzalez also said the workshops teach children that sexual predators are not always strangers, but could be family members, neighbors or friends of their parents.
With the help of parents, law enforcement and the community, Project FIGHTBACK has developed the most effective and comprehensive kidnap/abduction awareness program available, Patrick Gonzalez said.
Through the contributions of businesses and concerned citizens, these workshops are offered free of charge to the public.
“We strongly encourage parents to participate with their children, and not let them become the next victims,” he said.