March 2014

Charity Corner: Friends4Niki

Author: Krissy Cantelupe

I met Niki Minckler (back then it was still Lague) 15 years ago when I moved to Hilton Head. It was my first week at the Old Oyster Factory where I was training to be a server, and Niki was paired with me to train. I was in awe of her, because I felt humbled by how beautiful, how put-together and how funny she was. As the years went by, we became friends and spent some great road trips together, including a crazy bachelorette party on Tybee, “camping” on Hunting Island, and a fantastic night at a Wailers concert. (Niki, if you are reading this, you know what I am talking about.) In those years, she got married and gained two stepsons, then had two sons of her own, all while running, biking, swimming, and just “being Niki”…

Last Spring, Niki was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma in her leg. After extensive treatment, further diagnosis showed it had metastasized to her lungs. Now she is undergoing more treatments, including chemotherapy, which will keep her tied up for most of 2014. Since she has been unable to work for a year, her friends and family came up with a plan to beat the outstanding medical bills and the cost of day-to-day expenses.

“Friends 4 Niki” was the brainchild of Rick and Jada Saba, Richie Dreier, and Tristan and Kieran O’Grady, owners of the Big Bamboo Café, who came up with the idea over lunch. On February 6, friends and family came to together for a fabulous evening at the Big Bamboo, to raise money for Niki. Events included a four-course meal with Niki’s favorite curry dish as one of the options, music by the Beagles and White Liquor, and a 50/50 drawing, in which all proceeds were returned to the fund.

Up for bid via silent auction were over 50 items, including golf packages, jewelry, gift baskets and gift certificates to some of the island’s best places, a one-week vacation to Destin, Florida, and even a pair of hand-tooled boots, donated by Bleu, that the ladies “fought” over with their bids. Other raffles throughout the night included kayak tours and dolphin trips. The evening was a complete sellout (tickets were gone in three days) and a complete success, with all proceeds directly benefiting Niki and her family. 

For more information and to donate money, visit

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