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MS doesn't stop this caring grandmother

He loves Dr. Seuss. He prefers chicken and shrimp, but insists on smelling the first bite and rubbing it against his upper lip.

He plays recordings of This Old Man and John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith over and over. He loves to plant flowers and play in the wood chips his grandfather uses for mulch.

Brandon Lewis is a typical 5-year-old except that he suffers from autism, cerebral palsy, sensory integration disorder and other ailments.

Victoria Lewis, 41, Brandon's grandmother and caretaker, is fighting multiple sclerosis. For her efforts, Lewis is GRAND magazine's Grandmother of the Year.

This year's search, the first of its kind for the national magazine based in St. Petersburg, brought nearly 500 entries.

Lewis said she is happy to accept the award, if only to call attention to the number of children cared for primarily by their grandparents.

When her daughter, Christina, got pregnant at age 16, Lewis decided to raise the child. Doctors found excess spinal fluid in the brain, or hydrocephalus, while Brandon was in the womb. After an emergency C-section, Brandon weighed just 2 pounds and had several disabilities.

Christina has since gone to college. Her mother and son visit her periodically.

Brandon is frail and cannot dress himself. He makes friends cautiously and demands much of the few people he trusts.

"He requires constant care," Lewis said. "He's very determined."

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