THE SIEVE SIBLINGS, from left, Olivia, Mitch, Maddie, Alex and Ben were incredibly touched that 500 people attended the inaugural “See The Good 5K Walk” in honor of their late mom, Sharla, on Sept. 10. (Dan Tomasello Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Sharla Sieve saw the good in the world, and the community saw the good in Sharla Sieve.
Five hundred people came together to honor Sharla’s life, legacy and the positive impact she made on the world during the inaugural “See The Good 5K Walk” on Sunday, Sept. 10. Sharla passed away from a heroic battle with stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer last December at the age of 49. She left behind five children: Alex, Ben, Maddie, Olivia and Mitch.
Olivia, who raised $120,140 to bring a new clinical program to Massachusetts General Hospital that made hepatic arterial infusions available for colon cancer patients, kicked off the “See The Good 5K Walk” by thanking the 500 attendees for lacing up their sneakers and walking in her mom’s memory.
“I want to thank everyone who made the effort to be here today,” said Olivia. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this day come to life to celebrate the remarkable woman I am so honored to call my mom, Sharla. To know her is to love her. There are so many things that I love and admire about my mom: Her determination, her humor, her beauty and more. But the one thing that stands out about my mom is her bravery. She was never scared for how things would end for her on this Earth. She was a pillar of strength. In my eyes, she moved mountains and still does today. She taught me how to live like there is no tomorrow because it is never guaranteed. She taught me to appreciate the small things, to say please and thank you, to cherish the memories and ultimately taught me that I am so much stronger than I ever knew I could be.”
Olivia said the past nine months have been incredibly difficult for her and her four siblings.
“There are no words to describe the feeling of losing the most important person in your life,” said Olivia. “When I got the news that my mom, my best friend, only had a few weeks to live, it was a pain like no other. But my mom continued to reassure me that I am stronger than I could ever know, and I will make it through. Never did I think I would be here nine months later able to talk about this, but my mom knew. I know now that she is looking down from heaven beaming with joy, which is why today should be a day full of happiness because that is what she would have wanted.”
Olivia said her mom’s “legacy carries on through all of my siblings.”
“Every day, I see a part of my mom in them,” said Olivia. “Alex shares my mom’s drive and passion for the things and people he cares about. Ben has my mom’s determination. Just like her, he can complete any task he puts his mind to. Maddie shares her love for tennis, and is the most kindhearted person you will ever meet. Lastly, through Mitch, I see my mom’s compassion and the ability to put a smile on anyone’s face.”
Olivia said her mother was “capable of anything and everything.”
“As I look around at all of you who came today to remember the life of my mom, I can’t do anything but smile,” said Olivia. “In some way, big or small, my mom touched every person here, whether it was something she did, something she said or just her story alone. Let this be a day we can celebrate my mom, Sharla Jean Sieve, and her life, her memory, her determination and her humor. She was an incredible woman.”
After Olivia concluded her remarks, she was given a thunderous round of applause.
Maddie also thanked the 500 residents for attending the inaugural “See The Good 5K Walk.”
“I want to thank all of you for coming,” said Maddie. “It means so much to us and our family.”
The walk’s attendees gave Maddie a thunderous round of applause. Afterwards, the 500 participants walked from the Town Common to Newhall Park. The Sieve siblings led the way from start to finish.
Olivia said in an interview with the Villager at the finish line that the walk was “amazing.”
“The turnout was absolutely amazing,” said Olivia. “I didn’t expect so many people would be here, but it was great to see the community come together to remember my mom.”
“The walk was really great,” said Maddie. “I am really happy that so many people showed up. I teared up in the beginning because it means so much knowing that my mom was truly loved. She loved all of these people. It means so much to our family.”
Ben was touched that so many residents walked in honor of his mom.
“It was a great turnout,” said Ben. “We live in a great community that is so supportive. It’s amazing to see the impact my mom had on everyone. She meant a lot to so many people.”
Olivia recalled she and her siblings partnered with their mom’s friends to hold the inaugural “See The Good 5K Walk” because Sharla loved walking.
“The walk was a collective idea between family and friends,” said Olivia. “I want to thank my mom’s friends for helping us put the walk together. They helped out with everything.”
Olivia said the phrase “See The Good” was her mom’s mantra.
“My mom always looked on the bright side throughout her life, even when she was diagnosed with cancer and was going through treatment,” said Olivia. “She always saw the good and always chose to be positive and a bright light in everybody’s life.”
In addition to the “See The Good 5K Walk” being incredibly moving for the Sieve family, it was also very special for Sharla’s friends.
Jenna Camann recalled that her friendship with Sharla began when she was in fifth grade at Lynnfield Middle School.
“Sharla was an aide in my fifth grade class at the middle school,” Camann recalled. “She was finishing up classes, and started teaching at the middle school full-time the next year. We became friends. We had a shared love of scrapbooking and tennis. She coached me in tennis and when Alex was born, she asked me to babysit him. I babysat her kids, and now Sharla’s kids babysit my kids.”
While Camman said the walk’s proceeds have yet to be tallied, she said the funds will be donated to a variety of causes that Sharla supported.
“Some of the proceeds will be donated to the Sharla Sieve Liver Pump Fund that Olivia started at MGH,” said Camman. “The kids are also working together to create a scholarship in honor of their mom that will be distributed to certain Lynnfield High School seniors. We are also thinking about doing some tennis initiatives around town.”
Recreation Director Julie Mallett said Sharla was a dear friend who she misses every day.
“The walk was very emotional for me,” said Mallett. “I love how the kids and the families came together to honor Sharla’s memory. The support from everybody is just overwhelming.”
Stacey Cook said watching Alex, Ben, Maddie, Olivia and Mitch leading the walk was incredibly moving. She said Sharla would have been incredibly proud of her kids’ strength and resiliency.
“They have a piece of their mom with them,” said Cook. “Sharla is living on through all five of them. Watching them lead the walk was amazing.”
Paula Farese concurred with Cook’s sentiment.
“Friendships last forever,” said Farese.
Maddie thanked Camann and the rest of her mother’s friends for helping the Sieve siblings organize the “See The Good 5K Walk.”
The walk’s sponsors were the Everett Bank Charitable Foundation, Dermatology and Skin Health, the Law Office of Alfred Paul Farese Jr., Debbie Caniff North Shore Homes, Arbor Tree Service, Main Street Home, Gregory’s Flower Shop and Garden Center, WPR Wealth Planning Resources, DiBiase Companies, Caniff and Associates Wealth Managers, the Louise Touchette Team and Vault Training.