DARIEN, Ill. (CBS) — In 2011, cancer killed nearly 600,000 Americans nationwide.

So, when you think of a cancer fundraiser, you don’t think of something that resembles a celebration.

But you don’t know the Cancer Smashers.

In the high school gym at Eisenhower Junior High last week, a pep rally was held to end cancer, complete with videos, cheerleaders, a band and inspirational speakers.

Cancer Smashers is the brainchild of the H Foundation, which funds cancer research through the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern. Many of the 10- to 17-year-olds have already visited there.

“The kids created this. It was their vision, they wanted some friendly competition to get the word out in the community,” the foundation’s Dena Provenzano told CBS 2’s Rob Johnson.

Some of the kids in the foundation attend Eisenhower, and their vision was to challenge their rivals at nearby Lakeview Junior High in Downers Grove to a fundraiser. Several of the Lakeview kids had the courage to walk into the enemy’s lair, all in the name of cancer.

“Someone I know in my family has cancer, so it’s important for me to help end cancer for other families, too,” Sara Casey said.

For $1, the kids at each school will be buying fists in honor of someone, which will go up in the hallways of each respective school. By week’s end, the school with the most fists sold will be the winner.

Principals have stoked their kids’ competitive fires, taken a fierce rivalry and turned into a teaching moment.

Your Chicago with Rob & Kate

Your Chicago with Rob & Kate

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