Being a victim of sexual abuse in first grade, Joceline Tabacco said she let shame and guilt consume her, and her once joyful, radiant smile disappeared.

Then in November 2002, she died temporarily after rolling her truck eight times and winding up four inches away from the driver’s side window.

She had to relearn how to walk and talk, but her quality of life declined. Because of a damaged hypothalamus (a region of the forebrain that controls memory) and self-medicating with food, she reached 280 pounds by 2011, and her doctor wanted to put her on steroids.

Driving home from the doctor’s office, she said she prayed for the first time in her life. Minutes later, a stranger practiced a random act of kindness by paying for her meal at a Panda Express drive-thru.

Tabacco said she was floored.

At that point, her life turned in a positive direction. In March of this year, she said she felt a tug to open her eyes of the current reality of the world and was deeply saddened by what she saw.

She felt she was meant to travel the country for some reason, so she quit her job as a special education aide, moved out of her apartment in California and sold her car.

She started a walk for political reasons, but she found out she didn’t want to focus on anything negative.

In late July, she made her way to a friend’s home in Sturgis, Michigan. That friend finally helped her realize what she was called to do — practice and promote random acts of kindness to unite people and create a better world.

On Aug. 23, the 39-year-old started her yearlong journey, known as Born2BeAlive, in Fort Wayne.

She recently traveled through Seymour.

Read the full story in Friday’s Tribune and online at

Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.