Miss Racine's platform hits close to home

Posted at 10:29 PM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 23:43:29-04
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It's also the four year anniversary of the Azana Spa shooting, when a gunman shot and killed his estranged wife and two other women who worked with her.  
Susan Kim explains how a connection to that fateful day has led a young woman to spread awareness to the world around her:
Twenty-year-old Haley Schonter is the reigning Miss Racine. She was just 16 when the Azana Spa shooting claimed the lives of Zina Daniel, Cary Robuck and Maelyn Lind.
Robuck was like a second mom to Haley and her death profoundly impacted her path in life. 
Haley is a freshman at UW-Madison and like most students has a busy life. That juggling includes giving speeches around the state and talking to groups bout the pain of domestic violence. 
"It is our responsibility to educate our youth about what these vicious acts are," she said.
Haley made domestic violence awareness her platform when she was crowned Miss Racine because of the Azana Spa shooting.
"That day was kind of a waiting game to see what was going on," she said.
Waiting, since someone she loved was working at the salon that day. 
"I thought maybe she was one of the injured people," she said. "Never thought she was one of the women killed."
Then her mom broke the terrible news that her stepsister, Cary, was killed.
"She sat me down and told me, 'Cary didn't make it.' And I was like 'No, that can't be, this can't be real,'" she said.
Haley said at first, her family didn't want the shooting to be part of her platform because it was too painful. 
"I had to address it, come face to face with my emotions and deal with it," she said. "It's been a huge healing process being Miss Racine."
She said her family has come to understand.
"I think they're starting to realize it's not about Cary per se, it's about all those other victims, that they're feeling alone," she said. "I think I've changed the Racine community in addressing domestic violence. I think [Cary] would be really proud, too."
Haley said she plans to focus on women's issues when she graduates from UW-Madison. In the meantime, she said she will continue to educate and fight against domestic violence and sexual assault when she competes for Miss Southern Lakes in January.