About the Fund


Started in late 2022, The Frank Pitillo Memorial Fund was tasked with raising funds to replace the Frank Pitillo Memorial Lights at Ellicottville Central School. As a boy I had the honor of playing under those lights as my brothers AND SO MANY OTHERS from the region had.

After my brother passed away, my parents held a “Spaghetti Dinner” in the school gym with several local professional athletes to raise the additional funds needed for the original lights. I so vividly remember my father holding me up (in my pee wee football uniform) to throw the lights on for the very first time. Our pee wee team even got to play a scrimmage at half time. Fast forward, and I will never forget making the Varsity team as a freshman, and on opening night there was a surprise ceremony to “Un-retire” #35 so I could honor my brother by wearing his number. 40 years ago this fall, our team went undefeated and was the #1 ranked small school in the state. As team captain, like my Big Brother, I wore a black armband for every game to remind myself that it wasn’t about me, but about properly honoring my brother and playing for the entire community. I will never forget the moment right before our final home game, seeing my family at mid-field to “Re-retire” #35. I always felt like he was right there with us throughout that amazing run.

Ellicottville was always home to me, no matter where I was living at the time. But when the opportunity to raise my daughter Olivia in my hometown and return to my roots when I needed them most came knocking, my wife Kendra and I jumped at it. This village and its PEOPLE are what make it such a special place, and where we choose to raise our families.

Upon returning, I had the pleasure of attending a football game at Ellicottville Central’s Ray Gray Filed under the Frank Pitillo Memorial Lights. It was clear to me that the lights had fallen in disrepair. And so, it began. There have been quotes as high as $900,000 to replace those lights, but we were able to get a competitive bid at $200,000 to replace the lights. Once we had a dollar value, we set out to make it happen.

When I say that the people of Ellicottville and the surrounding area are AMAZING, I am understating the truth. What I have watched this town do in the past year is NOTHING short of remarkable!!! People from all walks of life jumped in and offered to help. The fund was established at the Cattaraugus Regional Community Foundation (501c3) in late 2022, and we began fundraising.

Due to the incredible generosity of SO MANY, we were able to raise $189,000!!!!

There are a few loose ends to tie up, and we are hoping to secure proper signage for the project, but I am so very proud to say that the Frank Pitillo Memorial Lighting project is nearing completion.

In addition to the lights, we have resumed the Frank Pitillo Memorial Scholarship Fund, that last week gave (5) $1,000 scholarships to ECS Students who excelled at both academics and athletics, as well as demonstrating a terrific work ethic.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Owen Chudy
  • Keelin Finn
  • Sam Edwards
  • Abby Chudy
  • William Benatovich

As we scale back our fundraising efforts, we have decided to make our HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL golf tournament an annual event! Please join us on Wednesday, August 14, 2024 for a day of fun and remembrance.

We will continue to provide scholarships to the community and will be actively looking to assist this wonderful community with needs that arise.

In closing, Ferguson Electric, the lighting contractor, is scheduled to re-aim the lights for more efficiency and complete the project in the next few weeks. We are planning a “ribbon cutting’ and dinner prior to the first home game of the season, when we will also be recognizing the 1984 ECS football team for the first undefeated season in school history! We will see you there!

Nick Pitillo

Timeline for the lighting project is as follows:

  • November 23, 2022: Kick off for Fundraising Event at the Villagio, Ellicottville NY
  • December 2022 – May 2022: Fundraising Events
  • June, 2023: Disconnect and Removal of old light system
  • July –  August 2023: Furnish and install prewired and pre- aimed Sports Lighting System
  • August 2024: Lighting system to be completed

Outcomes of the Project:

  • Increase in the # of Lumens emitted on the field
  • Increase energy efficiency of stadium lighting
  • Increased safety of fans and athletes

Current fundraising activities completed towards $250,000 goal:

  • June 2022 – November Fund Raising: $22,000
  • November 23, 2022 Fund Raising Event Kick Off: $14,000
  • November 29, 2022 Cattaraugus Gives Online Event: $16,000
  • February 3rd, 2023 Super Bowl Pool: $20,000
  • August 2023 Golf Tournament: $65,000
  • Other Donations: $45,000

Totaling over $185,000