Paul Staines pays tribute to adopted son Alberto

From Jamaican orphan boy to God's Aussie track star

LOOKING through the barbed wire fence of an orphanage in Jamaica, Alberto Campbell-Staines could never have dreamed he would one day run for Australia.

Nor could he possibly imagine that Queensland teachers Paul and Julie-Anne Staines would take their battle to the High Court to adopt him as their own.

Alberto's story is one of incredible faith, love and courage - and inspirational account of how child sponsorship works - so much so that Alberto has even sponsored his own orphan through the Sunshine Coast-based Vana Childcare Ministries.

On Saturday, Alberto will join 475 athletes from around the world in the International Paralympic Committee Athletics Grand Prix in Italy.

It's a far cry from the life of a young boy who suffered malnutrition, abuse and neglect at a state-run orphanage before he was transferred to The Nest, one run by the Salvation Army.

It was there, as a five-year-old, that he received love and proper care for the first time in his life.  It was also there where Paul and Julie-Anne Staines taught in a school for the blind.

The woman who would become his adopted mother started as his Grade One teacher.

The Staines say the way their family was brought together was nothing short of miraculous.

"God placed on our heart if you go for one child you have gone for enough,'' Paul told a recent Vana fundraising dinner. "We had no idea that would be Alberto.''

He said each one of them, individually, heard an 'audible' message from God that Alberto was to become part of the family.

It was in 2002, at the age of nine, that he was adopted.

But after they moved back to Australia, the Staines faced five years of battling authorities here to have their family officially recognised. It took a High Court decision to overturn the refusal of the adoption visa.

It was in Australia that Alberto's passion for running was noticed at his first school athletics day, where he won every race.

Since he started running competitively he has had on his bedroom wall the famous words of Eric Liddell:  "I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure."

Paul said running to Alberto was just a much an act of worship as singing or playing his drums.

Paul beams as he tells how he is the 'proudest dad in the world'.

"I look at Alberto and he has taught me so much.

"He is the bravest young man I have ever met.

"He has faced so much in his life and works so hard.

"He has taught me so much about what it is to love God.''

"When you watch him run it is watching a miracle in action.

"It is watching the purest form of worship I have ever seen.''

"When he runs, you know he is running for God.''

Alberto has competed against abled body athletes at club and state level and competed as a T20 athlete at a national and international level.

He's a member of Brisbane's QE2 Track club where he trains up to six days a week, with success in the 100m, 200m and 400m events.

At the 2012 Australian Open, AWD & Combined Events Championships he was the only sprinter to enter in all three sprint events and the only one to make it to the final in each event.

In 2013, Alberto was selected to represent Australia at the 9th INAS World Athletics Championships.

His running awards include Australian and Queensland records in the 200m, 400m, and 800m in the AWD T20 categories and the 2015 IPC International Grand Prix 400m Winner in Brisbane.

Regardless of whether he wins or not on Saturday, the Primary Teacher's Assistant at Brisbane's Citipointe Christian College, will remain an inspiration to all those around him.

As Julie-Anne Staines says: "When you give people opportunities, all of us can be transformed.''

"He has opened up the world to us.''