The Patriot Ball was held Saturday as a fundraiser for the Patriot Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to heal veterans through chiropractic techniques and nutrition instead of relying on pain pills and mood-changing drugs.

CANTON  North Canton chiropractor Timothy Novelli never served in the military with Shilo Harris. Novelli wasn’t there in 2007 when a bomb struck the Army staff sergeant’s Humvee while he was patrolling a southern Iraqi roadway.

Yet, Harris on Saturday credited Novelli, a man he had met about five years ago, with saving his life.

“I was a mess when he met me,” Harris recalled. “I was an alcoholic. I was abusing my pain medications. And you can see, I’ve been through it. These scars I wear aren’t the reason that I was such a mess but it was part of it.”

Harris met Novelli in 2012, a few weeks after he once again was injured, this time in a car accident. Novelli was volunteering his chiropractic services for veterans at an event. He told Harris of his then-fledgling organization called The Patriot Project.

“He gave me hope. He adjusted me and put my feet back on the ground and he put me back to living, living a good life,” said Harris, now the spokesman for the Patriot Project.

As a thank you, Harris and his wife, Jamie Harris, announced to the roughly 600 people gathered at the Canton Memorial Civic Center for the Patriot Ball Saturday that they were donating $3,000 toward the Patriot Project to help men and women in the military get the medical care they need to restore their lives.

They hoped others would find ways to support Novelli and his organization.

"Because what he does for our veterans and their families is above and beyond anything any other doctor can do," Jamie Harris said.

The Patriot Ball is an annual fundraiser for the Patriot Project, which aims to heal veterans through chiropractic techniques and nutrition instead of relying on pain pills and mood-changing drugs. Among the nonprofit organization’s goals are to provide chiropractic care to all active military and their families, wounded veterans and Gold Star dependents; to make chiropractic physicians commissioned as officers in all armed forces and to have chiropractic physicians embedded in all forward operated bases of combate and in all VA hospitals, clinics and bases.

Novelli told the audience that the Patriot Project now has 7,000 clinics operating in all 50 states — a figure that’s nearly double compared to a year ago. But Novelli said more still needs to be done to meet the demand. He noted that the U.S. military employs fewer than 100 chiropractors as subcontractors.

“Seven thousand sounds like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket of what we need,” he said.

While the night was focused on honoring the men and women who served in the military or as a first responder, former staff sergeant Clint Romesha, a Medal of Honor recipient, took a moment to recognize those in the audience who had never put on a uniform.

“If you think you missed your opportunity to serve because you didn’t put a uniform on, I say ‘no.’ If you are here tonight, you are serving,” he said.

He encouraged everyone to continue to support the Patriot Project, not only through donations, but also by spreading awareness about the nonprofit organization and the healing that is available to military men and women through chiropractic care.

For more information about the Patriot Project, visit http://www.patriot-project.org/.

Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or kelli.weir@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @kweirREP