The magnetic grin and peaceful eyes belie Macharia Yuot’s past as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Separated from his family when he was just 9 years old as part of an international rescue effort, Yuot and more than 25,000 Sudanese boys trekked 1,000 miles with little food and water to escape a violent civil war.
Today, Yuot’s gratitude to those who risked their lives on his behalf, and for the opportunities afforded him since coming to this country in 1999, is evident in everything he does. As a spokesman for Preferred Priorities, Preferred Properties’ charitable arm, Yuot gives motivational talks to inner city and suburban students. “‘If I am here after what I went through,’ I tell them, ‘you can do anything,’” says Yuot, who came to Preferred in 2005 as an intern.
Preferred is a major supporter of the Philadelphia-based Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools, which provides financial support to private and archdiocesan Catholic schools, along with tuition assistance for many non-Catholic and/or minority students. Yuot’s tuition to West Catholic High School was paid by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In spring 2002, Yuot earned a spot on Widener University’s track team and the mentorship of its coach, Vince Touey. His story caught the attention of ESPN, which came along when Yuot traveled to Sudan to visit family. The result: the Sorghum Fields Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving living conditions in Sudan’s war-ravaged villages. To learn more, visit thesorghumfieldsproject.org.