Gabby, Two Wonderful People And Two Special Goats

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – “Animals ask for nothing and bring so much pleasure — all animals,” said Andrea Cakounes of Cape Farm Supply and Cranberry Company. “I love animals and think they do more than people realize.”

Had Gabby Buckman survived her battle with glioblastoma, she would certainly confirm Cakounes’ assessment of animals. Gabby passed away when she was 27 years old.

Gabby Buckman met Andrea Cakounes several years ago on one of the cranberry bog tours the Cakouneses provide on their farm in North Harwich. While on the farm, Gabby met several goats the Cakouneses kept and spent time embracing them.

“Gabby’s love for animals has always been evident, with goats particularly holding a special place in her heart,” her father, David Buckman, reflected. “Their fun-loving attitude, care for one and other, and social behavior are just a few reasons for Gabby’s adoration. Anyone close to Gabby would not be surprised by this, as she shares these very traits.”

The Buckmans are from Plainfield, N.J., and were on the Cape visiting relatives at the time of the tour. Andrea Cakounes said they stayed around after the tour and became acquainted with the Cakouneses, and from time to time they would text, with Gabby always asking how the goats were doing.

Buckman said the Cakouneses also generously offered Gabby goats if she was serious about having, keeping and caring for them.

“We get pretty friendly with a lot of people who take the tour,” said Leo Cakounes.

While pursuing her degree in occupational therapy, Gabby was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor. She fought on despite the physical and mental roadblocks put in her way, including brain surgeries, proton treatment, chemotherapy, radiation, and experimental medications, according to her father.

“All the while, she displayed a positive manner and an infectious smile inspiring everyone around her…she continued living life on her own terms and became a certified occupational therapist. She also attended goat yoga classes and visited farms when she needed to be reinvigorated,” her father said.

As the end of her life was imminent, David Buckman said, Gabby remembered the Cakouneses’ offer and reached out to them.

“They not only remembered Gabby, but in a matter of days two goats, complete with transport cages, food, hay, and instructions of care, were on the way to our home in New Jersey via Gabby’s aunt and uncle,” Buckman said. “Gabs couldn’t have been happier or more grateful for the opportunity to be with these amazing animals, and we can’t thank Andrea and Leo enough for their kindness and generosity.

“Gabby named the goats Goochie and Prima and spent time with them, friends, and family out on the deck during her final weeks on earth,” according to her father. “Gabby touched the lives of everyone she met, including animals like Goochie and Prima, whose spirited and frisky company was adored in her final days.”

Gabby’s legacy lives on through the people she inspired and touched. Her inspiration will continue through a nonprofit called GOATS – Giving Others Assistance To Shine.

The mission of the nonprofit is giving to givers, supporting the effort of those who give selflessly to others and empowering others who embrace Gabby’s spirit of giving. GOATS will achieve this by celebrating and amplifying stories of extraordinary kindness, inspiring others to follow Gabby’s footsteps, providing financial assistance to individuals and organizations that embody Gabby’s selfless commitment to helping others, and fostering connections between like-minded individuals and organizations dedicated to spreading kindness and compassion.

Goochie and Prima remain on the Buckman property in New Jersey.

“Let us cherish the moments that matter most and follow Gabby’s footsteps by being kind and caring, and especially supportive to those who help others. May Gabby’s story endure to encourage others to continue to positively impact our community, and indeed our world,” said Buckman.