Larry Page's announcement that he suffers from partial vocal cord paralysis has put the Google (GOOG) CEO in the odd spot of giving voice to a disease that can leave its sufferers voiceless.

Page's explanation on Google+ (naturally) and his promise to put big bucks behind finding a cure, marked an abrupt acknowledgment that whatever had caused the 40-year-old executive's voice to temporarily go away last year wasn't itself going away any time soon.

But the episode also offers us three important truths about Silicon Valley.

Google CEO Larry Page closes out the keynote presentation at  Google’s annual I/O software conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center on
Google CEO Larry Page closes out the keynote presentation at Google's annual I/O software conference at San Francisco's Moscone Center on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) ( Karl Mondon )

First, this is a place with celebrities. True, Silicon Valley is no match for Hollywood in terms of instant recognition, but the valley has produced the sort of high-profile highfliers that our prying selves can't help but be curious about. Look no further than the charity bidding that ended this week with someone agreeing to pay $610,000 to spend half an hour or so over coffee with Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook.

Our celebrities are different from the sports and entertainment types but maybe not that different. They skew toward the young and rich, who live in fabulous homes -- or several fabulous homes. They are accomplished in ways that sometimes seem beyond our imaginations. And they'd be worthy of our envy, if we were the jealous sort.

Most are not TMZ material, but as the insatiable blogosphere blogs on we learn more about their personal lives and begin to think of our Silicon Valley celebrities as people we know. We've got Yahoo's (YHOO) Marissa Mayer, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. There's Larry Ellison, Woz (at last, a one-name celebrity) and Steve Jobs, who even in death continues to be a source of fascination. Our celebs have produced stories of weddings and babies and deaths too soon. They've provided tales of high-seas adventures, fabulous parties and ample ambition. They've been role models and cautionary tales.

And many feel a connection. Scroll through the comments on Page's Tuesday post. Amid the suggestions to try cactus juice or surgery or a fast and a weeklong vow of silence, are heartfelt words of encouragement and the stories of sons, friends and others who suffer from similar problems.

And here's the thing: Like it or not, celebrities are important. They have the ability to start or change the conversation. They often have the resources to change the world. When the beautiful and powerful Angelina Jolie steps forward to tell in detail of her decision to undergo a double mastectomy to decrease her significant chance of breast cancer, the world listens. When NBA veteran Jason Collins comes out as gay, people question their assumptions, their fears and their prejudices.

When a celebrity shines a light on a problem -- a problem with a potential solution -- people ask questions, the most important being: What can I do to help?

"It's about learning to rise above it and find a new 'normal,'" one well-wisher commented on Page's post. "Good luck on the research! I'm going to look more into this for my husband. And thanks for sharing ur story!"

The second thing Page's story tells us about Silicon Valley is that the "if you can dream it, you can do it" meme hatched here has distilled a new form of philanthropy. It's a movement that arises out of an arrogance that can be obnoxious and also very effective. I call it the smartest person in the room syndrome. This is a place crawling with people who believe nothing can outsmart them. Their response to an incurable disease is to create a timeline, design metrics and cure it.

And why not try? When Oracle (ORCL) founder Ellison became interested in prolonging life, he formed a foundation and backed it, he says, with $1 billion. The joke is that he's trying to find a way to live forever, but meantime the foundation has the potential to produce medical breakthroughs that could help many. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is genetically predisposed to developing Parkinson's disease, has donated more than $130 million to the effort to slow Parkinson's down.

"Pretty much everybody in the world has or will have some serious condition," Brin told Bloomberg a year ago. "How much is it worth to you to have that condition be potentially curable?"

Yes, I've wondered whether, in the end, these celebrity efforts are simply selfish. But I don't pretend to know what any of these celebrities are thinking. Meantime, whatever their motivations, they are making a cure more likely.

Which leads to the third truth Page's story illustrates: Even those who seem to be the most invincible are vulnerable. When it comes to matters of health, there is a power higher than ROI, IPO or C++, even in Silicon Valley. It's wise for all of us -- celebrity or not -- to keep that in mind.

After all, there are some problems in life that can't be solved by all the money in the world.

Contact Mike Cassidy at mcassidy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5536. Follow him at Twitter.com/mikecassidy.