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A spirit that is not afraid

‘Not your average kid’: Sarah Jane German

Sarah German donating care packages at Decatur Memorial Hospital in Illinois.
Sarah German donating care packages at Decatur Memorial Hospital in Illinois.

Fred German was standing in the shower one day and it clicked. His wife Beverly German had always wanted to adopt a baby from China, and until that point, the time just wasn’t right. But that day, something flipped the switch in his mind, and he hollered out to his wife from the bathroom, “Do you still want a kid from China?” 

Beverly was elated and went upstairs to grab the already large stack of forms she had accumulated in preparation. The adoption process took two years. 

Sarah Jane German was adopted when she was two years old and her parents brought her home to Champaign, Illinois.

Fred and Beverly German adopt Sarah Jane from China in 2007.

“I loved her immediately,” Fred said. “There was no other choice that could have been made, and it just happened. She’s a little miracle.”

As beautiful as those first years were, when Sarah was 4, her mother was diagnosed with a rare terminal cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC). The cancer spreads slowly, and over the next eight years, Sarah’s only memories with her mom would be under the shadow of her illness. 

“I knew… back of my mind that she was going to die before I could grow up with her,” Sarah said.

Sarah and Beverly German in 2010.

But Sarah drew inspiration from her mom even in the darkest days.

“Everyone knows my mom as such a bright light in such a dark time. And I always say that she was the one that we all turned to for hope when she was the one fighting,” Sarah recalled. “Her personality never wavered and if anything, she became more optimistic over time.”

Beverly German’s optimism became a legacy that lives on through her daughter. Nine months after Beverly’s passing, Sarah founded a non-profit called CureACC in 2017. 

What started as a few Instagram posts for raising awareness turned into a non-profit centered around funding treatments for ACC patients. Most recently, they provided nearly 500 care packages to local cancer centers in central Illinois. 

Sarah possessed an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. As she converted various creative and artistic projects into little businesses growing up, she fell in love with the beginning stages of startups. That trend is continuing with her drive and vision for CureACC. 

“She’s tenacious. She decided to do it and she did it,” Fred said. “Ultimately, the most special thing is that she cares about people. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives.”

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Sarah is currently a freshman in business management at Auburn University. But her connection to Auburn didn’t just start with her education. It started through her mom and dad, who are both Auburn alumni.

“Growing up, my dad and I would leave the house on Saturdays for game days, because my mom was so intense about the games,” Sarah said. “Remotes were being thrown if Auburn was losing.”

Sarah’s love for Auburn was also cultivated by her frequent visits to her family, specifically her “Aunt” Pammy, who lives south of Atlanta.

Pam “Pammy” Edwards was technically Beverly German’s cousin, but the two women always considered themselves like sisters. This bond brought Pammy and Sarah together. After Sarah’s mother’s death, the two keep Beverly’s memory alive by their special relationship.

“She’s my bonus kid. Anything that requires her to have family or a mom or whatever, that’s what I want to be for her and that’s what I try to be for her,” Edwards said.

The relationship was intentional throughout Beverly’s illness. Every summer for a few weeks, Sarah would travel down South to spend time with her cousins.

For Sarah, it seemed like every day she spent with her cousins brought a new adventure. Whether it was the aquarium in Atlanta, the World of Coke or visiting Auburn and staying at their lake house on Lake Martin, Sarah kept her ties closely knit with her mom’s side of the family.

“Over time, we started [including] Auburn and seeing all the sites and always going into the bookstores and buying shirts and plenty of gear for her,” Edwards said. “It’s been a big deal for her to come to Auburn and be at Auburn because that’s where her mother and father met.”

Pam "Pammy" Edwards and Sarah Jane German

Sarah said she hopes to use her education at Auburn to follow in her mother’s footsteps, aiming for a master’s degree from the University of Boulder in Colorado.

Sarah said she believes she has proven again and again that she is able to pursue education while also managing CureACC and her aspirations don't end there. She’s hoping to also start a podcast, encouraging other young people to pursue entrepreneurship. 

The purpose and drive Sarah’s family sees in her translates into her desire to help others achieve success in their passion projects. 

“Just learn different markets and learn how to navigate and push yourself towards different demographics and do something that’s safe to fail in,” Sarah said. “Don’t start a big empire. Don’t set out on something big.” 

German also said that understanding social media marketing and algorithms allowed her to grow her following with CureACC. According to Sarah, the ability to adapt is one of the most powerful skills you can have as a person in business.

“You’re going to fail. You’re going to be knocked down to pegs. Your ego is going to take a big hit,” Sarah said. “Don’t go into starting a business if you want to feel on top of the world.” 

Sarah German putting together care packages at St. Matthew's Assembly Day with CureACC in 2023.

While Sarah continues her education, her father Fred continues to be her biggest supporter. 

“He supports me 100%. He just lets me do my crazy little things, but he’s always in my back corner, which is something I am so thankful for,” Sarah said.

There is a bittersweet aspect to Sarah’s jump start in her career. While Fred said he couldn’t be prouder, he also wishes that Beverly could be here to see all the impact Sarah has made through her hard work.

“There’s a pride. There's a humbling aspect of it and then there's kind of a sad aspect of it,” Fred said. “I could envision Beverly in heaven, you know, watching her and thinking, ‘Gee, I wish [Sarah] Jane didn't have to do this. I wish she wasn't in a position to be doing this.’ But ultimately, given the circumstances, you know, cancer and Beverly’s passing, it was out of our control, and I think Beverly would be very proud to see Jane, making the best of an unfortunate situation.”

Sarah is holding out that if she continues to follow through and put in the work on her passion project, it will pay off in the end.

“She’s not your average kid. She’s never been your average kid,” Edwards said. “She lives every day with a purpose. There’s always a goal. There’s always a push to make a difference.” 

Kristen Carr | Editor-in-Chief
Kristen Carr | Editor-in-Chief

Kristen is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in business. She has been with The Plainsman since her freshman year serving as a sports writer, podcast editor and host, and most recently, operations managing editor. Carr is currently the editor in chief of The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @kristencarrau


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