A true Woolf: Highland Hills firewoman racing toward Ironman world record
HIGHLAND HILLS, OH (WOIO) - Many firefighters are battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in silence.
It's rare to hear a firefighter speak out about their struggle.
And even more rare to hear from a woman in the firehouse.
Cleveland 19 spoke to a local firefighter training to break those barriers.
Diana Woolf is training to be the first woman in the world to do an Ironman triathlon in her full firefighter gear.
She suffers from PTSD, but training has helped her to heal.
Diana Woolf has been putting on her firefighter gear for the last 20 years, but now, she's carrying 37 pounds for another reason.
"I will be the first woman in the world to do an Ironman and half Ironman in full firefighter gear," Woolf said.
The 46-year-old firefighter with Highland Hills Fire Department is training six days a week, trying to raise $25,000 for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Woolf has been carrying around the weight of PTSD for years.
Firefighters face a lot more than fires on the job.
"Babies, traumatic car accidents, suicides. Sometimes it's very difficult to see what we see," she said.
The stigma is what keeps firefighters from seeking help.
"Myself included, I had thoughts of suicide as well. And many people don't know that, but that's why I'm doing this, is so the world knows that you can come out, you can say it. I want firefighters to talk about it," Wool said.
For female firefighters, who make up only four percent of the workforce, it can be even harder to speak up.
"Women will be even more closed down to opening up about PTSD because we're already seen somewhat in a weak light in the fire service," she said.
Competing in triathlons has helped Woolf heal, but she's never done one like this before.
The Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile marathon.
She'll run the marathon portion in her full turnout gear.
"Here I am saying, I have PTSD. But I'm still strong enough to do an Ironman," Woolf said.
Diana Woolf will compete in Ironman Florida next Sunday, which is a half triathlon.
She will compete in the Ironman Boulder, a full triathlon, in June.
If you'd like to donate to her cause, click here. Woolf says 100 percent of donations go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
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