Writer fulfills dream to finish musical while battling cancer

(The Captain of the Crossing Guard may be Gretchen's idea, but friends spurred her on and strangers are bringing it to the stage. From composers, to actors, a crew and director.)
(The Captain of the Crossing Guard may be Gretchen's idea, but friends spurred her on and strangers are bringing it to the stage. From composers, to actors, a crew and director.)
(The Captain of the Crossing Guard is an idea Gretchen had about two and a half years ago.)
(The Captain of the Crossing Guard is an idea Gretchen had about two and a half years ago.)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - "I can't believe that it's mine and I can share it," said Gretchen Zyndorf, writer. "I can't believe it."

It's a dream coming true for Gretchen Zyndorf.

She had a few ideas that became a few characters and later a musical. Now, with the help of so many volunteers, her dream is coming to life on stage, despite her terminal cancer.

The Captain of the Crossing Guard is an idea Gretchen had about two and a half years ago.

It's the story of a sixth grader who has to choose her successor to lead the crossing guards at her school. A musical that Gretchen wanted to write to inspire families to value everyone and all of their struggles, big and small.

But writing the story wasn't always easy. Her friends and family encouraged her to keep going.

"They said you know why people don't succeed," remembered Gretchen Zyndorf. "It's because they never finish anything. I thought, you know, I was supposed to hear that and I am going to finish that play no matter what."

And no matter what, she finished. Despite being diagnosed with a rare and advanced form of cancer, a year into the process, Gretchen finished writing her musical.

Her cancer is terminal, but you would never know it, she hasn't let her diagnosis define her.

"Everybody gets something, and I've had a fabulous life, just a wonderful life," explained Gretchen.  "And I choose to face that direction and see all the good things I had and you know everybody gets bad stuff too, but if you put things on the big scale most of us are fortune's darlings, we really are."

The Captain of the Crossing Guard may be Gretchen's idea, but friends spurred her on and strangers are bringing it to the stage. From composers, to actors, a crew and director.

Anyone interested in seeing the show  can contact the box office at 419-242-2787 or visit their website here.

"It's an honor and it's a gift," explained Amy Spaulding-Heuring, director. "It's a gift that we can give to Gretchen and Gretchen's spirit is a gift to us."

Gretchen said she's in awe of the production set to take stage next weekend, but all you have to do is watch her, watch the show and you will know it's special.

"I think what is transformative about this show is the fact that there is so much joy that we can give to people and so much joy that Gretchen has given to us," explained Spaulding-Heuring. "And joy and kindness are the most powerful things in the world."

The first ever stage production of "The Captain of the Crossing Guard" will hit the Valentine Theater on August 17, 18, and 19.

While the first show is already sold out, the Saturday (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) shows still have tickets available.

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