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Up Lad Up, Kieren’s ride for Grandpa

If you’re travelling Canada’s highways this summer, be sure to keep an eye out for this determined girl-with-a-cause

Kieren stands beside her red bicycle on a footbridge.

Kieren Britton isn’t your average 20-year-old college student. This summer she will be cycling across Canada to raise money for research into prostate cancer, a disease that has touched her life personally. Although she can never have her own grandpa back, she said she can give a little more time and hope to all those other grandpas and grandchildren out there. We had a chance to speak with Britton about her ride and why she decided to do the trip.

Tell me about the journey that you’re planning over your summer vacation.

I’m biking across Canada to raise money for Prostate Cancer Canada to fund research towards a cure. I will leave May 7th from Vancouver, and hopefully arrive in St. John’s, Newfoundland, early August, although I have until the end of August. One hundred per cent of donations and sponsorship funds that I raise go to Prostate Cancer Canada to fund research for a cure. I’ve been training and planning, and I’m set to go in May.

What inspired you to make this trip?

The trip is in dedication to my grandpa, Hubert Britton. He passed away a few years back, when I was 17, from prostate cancer. It’s kind of in memory of him, and to support the cause. When he had the cancer it metastasized to his bones, so he ended up biking around quite a bit on his blue, shiny tricycle (laughs). I want to bike across Canada just like he biked everywhere, in memory of him. He was proud of his tricycle.

I understand your grandfather left some money for his grandkids—is that how you’re funding the trip?

I’m working as well, but he left quite a bit, so I could buy the bike and all the supplies. Now I’m just working for the food and anywhere I want to stay—campgrounds and stuff, those kind of costs. He gave each of us cousins money, and that’s what I’m doing the trip with, for sure.

Why the name Up Lad Up?

It was a poem that my grandpa loved, Up Lad Up, by A.E. Housman.

"Up lad up, ‘tis late for lying, hear the drums of morning play . . ." It kind of encourages guys to get up, get checked, get educated and learn about prostate cancer. My grandpa was very much so the kind of man that kept it all to himself, and I feel like a lot of men, when it comes to prostate cancer, keep it to themselves. However, sharing the word could easily catch prostate cancer early on and help a lot more men. That’s kind of where it came from and how it started from that poem.

I understand prostate cancer often goes undiagnosed because of a lack of prevention.

Yes, one in seven men actually contracts prostate cancer and ends up passing away from it. It’s a huge number of men (that often wait) to the point where it’s incurable and they can’t do anything about it. It’s just a simple check. Well, not simple, but compared to the other option it’s a pretty simple check to keep on track of what’s going on and that sort of thing. It’s very important for men to go and get checked.

Do you have any specific goals you’re trying to reach?

With fundraising I’m kind of keeping it very open. I don’t want to limit myself—the more the better. Any little bit helps, but I’m the kind of person that if I don’t reach that goal I will be upset (laughs). I’m trying to keep it open. As for goals other than that, it would just be awesome to get it done by the beginning of August; I’d love to be in Newfoundland by then. Other than that, just the goal of getting there.

Have you had a lot of response to this idea so far?

I’ve had a lot of support. Most of the donations have come from family and friends. It’s hard for companies to donate, I realize that. I realize that a lot of the bigger corporations can’t really donate to the smaller, individual fundraisers, and smaller companies have a harder time donating because of the economic time right now. A lot of it (so far) has come from family and friends, teachers and (College of the Rockies)—there’s been huge support from tons of little businesses like Mane Design in Cranbrook. My mom’s business, the Potash Corp. in Saskatchewan, gave $2,500 for me, which is huge—that’s most of it so far.

How can people follow your ride?

Right now I have a website, Up Lad Up, which is my personal website. On there is a link to go donate at the Prostate Cancer Canada page. When it comes a little closer to my ride, I’ll be posting my blog up there as well—which will help people keep posted for the whole ride. There’s also a Facebook group and I'm on Twitter @upladup.

Right now the plan is that I’ll go from Vancouver to Calgary up through Golden (B.C.) on Highway 1. And then I’ll go off Highway 1 to stay up north to Saskatoon. Then I’ll be dropping down to Winnipeg and I’ll be going on Highway 1 all the way across. 

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