Powell resident Brook Kohn's heart will be in central Ohio when he runs a marathon about 4,200 miles from home.

Powell resident Brook Kohn's heart will be in central Ohio when he runs a marathon about 4,200 miles from home.

The 19-year-old is dedicating his 26-mile run in Spain's Madrid Marathon to the Somali Community Association of Ohio (SCAO). Kohn's efforts will help support the organization's various programs for children and young adults.

SCAO began in 1996 to provide social and cultural support for immigrants and refugees from Somalia. It's headquartered on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus.

Kohn values the "diversity and culture" the Somali immigrants bring to our greater community. He hopes people will make donations to SCAO on behalf of his marathon run, asking that donations be sent directly to the organization.

Kohn is a student of Arabic and international relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Last summer, he interned at SCAO, helping with public relations and immigration issues and teaching English as a second language.

"I learned much about the contributions that the Somali population has made to our community and the hardships they are facing now because of the economic crisis. So, as I attempt to run 26 miles in Madrid this April (25), I figured I would do it for the SCAO, raising money for their after-school programs," Kohn wrote in an e-mail.

A graduate of The Wellington School in Columbus, Kohn has a passion for education, said his mother, Peggy Kohn of Powell.

"He is passionate about people's rights to education," she said. "Wellington had a lot to do with it -- pushing the students further on their goals."

"(Kohn) is a very nice young guy. Motivated. Who wants to help the people no matter how they look and where they came from. He's got a good heart," said Hassan Omar, president of SCAO.

The after-school programs are important for keeping children "occupied after school as their parents finish their work day" and helping them with their studies in math, history and English, Kohn said.

The programs help the Somali community "become viable, important, productive community members of Ohio and to assimilate to the mainstream of America," said Omar.

"This community needs support because we're the first Somali immigrants to the U.S. and we don't have any other bridging group, such as (Somali) people who have come here before us. And we're struggling in terms of the language and culture," Omar said.

"Education is one of the most important things in life. ... Because I am so fortunate, I try to give back as much as possible," Kohn wrote. "Education leads to opportunity, which is beneficial to us all. Also, as a student of politics, education is a crucial cornerstone to democracy."

Kohn plans a career in international relations, using his knowledge of Arabic.

SCAO is a 501.3C not for profit organization.

Donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to SCAO, 3422 Cleveland Ave., Columbus, OH 43224-2907.

For more information, e-mail Kohn at BrookKohn@gmail.com.