The Stouts, from Burlingame, were recognized for their contributions to the industry. As they listened to speakers they wore a customary smile and after the banquet thanked each person who came up to shake their hand.
“I would like to thank all the people who gave us advice and helped us over the years,” Ben Stout said. “We did not know anything when we first started.”
“When Ben and I first started we were like green pups,” Helen said.
She remembered the close-knit relationship that occurred with greyhound owners in the Burlingame area who provided a nurturing environment.
The greyhound industry allow many families to get together, she said, adding she had fond memories of gatherings at The Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., as well as during the NGA fall and spring meets. The couple is now preparing to retire.
Emcee Bob Rider, Vinton, Iowa, kidded the Stouts by saying tradition at banquets was to tell stories that made fun of the honorees.
“When I think of them they are friends,” he said and quipped. “I don’t know nothing bad about them.”
Abilene’s Tom Taplin said the Stouts were quiet, but very effective in what they did. He admired the greyhounds they raised and their humble demeanors.
Steve Ward, Ellis, said the Stouts were always kind to him when he started in the industry. They congratulated him on his early victories which meant so much to him when his career began.
Ward said the couple was far more involved in the industry than many people might think. He personally credited Helen Stout for her lobbying efforts that allowed pari-mutual wagering to be approved in the late 1980s in Kansas.
Cindy Unrein, Kansas City, Kan., remembered the tender loving care the couple used with their greyhounds.
“No one treated their dogs better than Ben and Helen,” Unrein said. “There are not two people more deserving.”
When Helen sent a greyhound to for adoption, she would send treats and notes to the adoptive owner and kept track of the animal.
Helen helped other trainers, even when their dogs were not their own.
“It’s an honor to be with you tonight and be a part of an elite club,” Unrein said.
Abilene’s Tracy Wildey said it was poignant for her to be there. Her father, the late John Seastrom, was a classmate of Helen’s at Burlingame. The Seastroms and Stouts allied on raising animals. She can remember her father talking warmly about the Stouts.
“These people are so dedicated to what they do,” Wildey said.
The banquet also included four drawings for pups with proceeds going to the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
It has been a busy week for the industry. Tonight will include inductions into the Greyhound Hall of Fame. An auction earlier this week raised about $25,000 for the institution.