INDIANAPOLIS — The Chief Elf of Santa Claus, Indiana has just received the state's highest award for her life of service to the community.
Governor Eric Holcomb said on Friday this year's Sachem Award recipient is southern Indiana leader Pat Koch, one of the original partners of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari in southern Indiana.
The annual award recognizes an individual whose lifetime of excellence and moral virtue has brought credit and honor to Indiana. Recipients are selected by the state's governor.
"Pat Koch is a southern Indiana powerhouse who put Santa Claus, Indiana on the map," Holcomb said in a press release. "The fundamental theme of her life's work is to serve others. Pat embraces her fellow Hoosiers with love and kindness."
According to the governor, Koch began her life of service by entering the community of the Daughters of Charity St. Vincent De Paul. While she studied at St. Louis University, Koch became a registered nurse.
Later in life, she married her late husband Bill Koch and they operated Santa Claus Land, which is now known as Holiday World and Splashin' Safari.
"Koch made a lasting impact on the community through volunteerism and hospitality," Holcomb said. "In 2006, Koch founded the Santa Claus Museum and still holds the title of Chief Elf of the Santa's Elves who help Santa answer letters sent from children around the world."
A ceremony to celebrate Koch's achievement will be conducted at the Will Koch Family Auditorium at Heritage Hills High School on Friday, Dec. 2.