By Melanie Sochan on May 11, 2017 SCARBOROUGH

What’s an appropriate gift for a beloved father’s 100th birthday? For one family, it was the decision to donate $25,000 to the Eastern Trail Alliance’s Close the Gap Project.

Philip Thompson, a retired physician who now resides in Portland but was a resident of South Portland for more than 40 years, will celebrate his 100th birthday on May 11.

Thompson’s six children donated the $25,000 on their father’s behalf. Meanwhile, The John Andrews Memorial Eastern Trail 5K will be held on May 20 at 9 a.m.

Sponsored by O’Reilly’s Cure, the run honors John Andrews, the founder of the Eastern Trail, who died Feb. 20. “Without John there wouldn’t be an Eastern Trail today,” said Carole Brush, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “His vision and untiring spirit gave us the enthusiasm to keep going.” Andrews will be honored at the alliance’s May 11 annual meeting in Wells. Registration fees for the 5K are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event. One beer is included for those 21 years of age or older. Participants can register online here. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Eastern Trail Alliance and go directly to the Close the Gap campaign.

The Eastern Trail Alliance is now just under $550,000 away from starting its 1.6-mile Close the Gap project.

The alliance has already raised more than $3.25 million towards the $3.8 million project, closing in on the funding needed to make the proposal a reality. The funding must be in place before construction can begin, most likely in 2018, according to Alliance representatives.

The Close the Gap project would connect the trail in South Portland to Scarborough. Bridging the area would create a 16-mile continuous off-road trail from Bug Light in South Portland to downtown Saco.

The 1.6 miles would link the Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland and a section of trail in Scarborough that ends at the Nonesuch River, near Eastern Road.

Cyclists and pedestrians now have to traverse the streets of Gary Marietta Way, Highland Avenue, Black Point Road and Eastern Road to continue on the trail.

Thompson, a family physician who practiced in Portland and specialized in rheumatoid arthritis into his 70s, was an advocate of trails and exercise.

Read the entire article online here.